Produce > Process > Impress.
I believe that the best jobs/roles optimise for Produce work and rewards for the same. The Impress work is also part of the job, but it is secondary.
The worst ones are opposite.
A top developer is valued based on the code she has shipped. If the feature she worked on has high reliability, can handle scale, and does its job well, then there is no need for her to send a dozen mails impressing higher ups.
The job of a Product Manager is different. You know you did not write the code. Nor did you design the feature. So in a mature org, the amount of impress work you do is far more the actual produce work. By produce work for PM I mean features you have conceived, OKRs you have planned, specs you have written, the finally things you have shipped on production and the outcomes you drove. Impress work involves sending redundant update mails, setting up meetings to get face time with key stakeholders, pretty PPTs.
A PM’s growth is less about what he “actually does” and more about what has he positioned himself as “doing”.
This is the reason I sometimes wish I had remained a developer. Or had picked up Design instead of PM’ing when I wanted a career change.
IC role > PM
Credit to Shreyas Doshi’s thread which inspired this post.