I am often asked during informational interviews what I look for in a good product owner. Besides the typical knowledge stuff (i.e. agile methodology, etc) there are two primary things I hone in on.
First I am looking for an individual smattered with diversity. Having a product person who like me has had a Forest Gump level of experiences brings with it a wide scanning brain for unique problem solving.
Second I look for an insatiable curiosity that can come only from someone with good questioning skills (i.e. Journalism major, etc). I look for a person who can uncover the problems people face and ability to test a variety of hypothesis about what may solve the actual problem.
Finally, I look for someone who doesn’t take things too seriously. I know that most good employees require this skill, but it’s especially important in a good product owner. We have to be able to rest aside our own biases and preconceived notions of being “right” to find the “right” solution. We also need to constantly evolve and pivot which means the ego has to rest aside.
Want to be good at all these skills? My suggestion – hang with others who possess the same characteristics. They will certainly teach you how to act and perfect these abilities. They also happen to be the most fun people to work with. 🙂