What is the Difference Between a Junior PM and a Senior PM?

Product management involves many roles. The sphere still struggles with a lot of definition problems: what is the role, how do we grow, when do we get promoted and to where, and so on. 

One of the common issues is about companies that don’t have any form of structure around their product teams, who struggle to define the actual differences between their hierarchy.

One of the relevant and typical questions: What is the difference between junior and senior product managers?

We’ve found a clear explanation in Cleverpm blog. Here’re the extracts:

Junior PMs manage, Senior PMs lead

This is the main difference between leadership and management, and many junior Product Managers don’t understand the difference or haven’t been exposed to true leadership.

Junior product managers create solutions, Senior PMs define problems

Early in our careers, we’re constantly pushed to provide “specs” that define every aspect of a feature or improvement, so that the developers “know what to build”.  But as we develop our relationships with those teams, and as we expand our own understanding of what Product Management really is, we grow to learn that it’s far better for us to clearly define the problem and the context in which our users encounter those problems, than it is to define solutions.

Junior PMs know customers, Senior PMs learn from customers

It’s very common for newly-minted Product Managers to take too closely to heart their role as the “voice of the customer” — and far too many simply forget that in order to truly own that title, they have to maintain a constant stream of connection to the customer and the market.

Senior-level Product Managers see their customers as a constant source of information and inspiration, a font of new ideas and concepts borne from their daily problems.

Juniors focus on delivery, Seniors focus on strategy

Junior Product Managers are often brought in as glorified project managers, even in companies with the best of intentions — this is because that’s a common gap that must be filled, and the other teams simply aren’t stepping up to the plate.

Senior-level Product Managers spend as much time focused on helping to define, understand, and evangelize the strategy behind the product improvements.

Junior PMs push, Senior PMs facilitate

One more point that separates Junior PMs from Senior PMs is how they approach others in the organization with whom they have disagreements.

Junior-level Product Managers often just push their agenda and push harder when they encounter resistance.

Senior Managers understand that leading through influence takes time, effort, energy, and not a small amount of politicking to change minds. They know that running headlong into a brick wall won’t do any good, but with the right amount of pressure in the correct location, the entire wall will collapse into dust.

What do you think of these differences?

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