I have taught for years that Business Analysts must be leaders (not just note takers) and I have to admit that I have not always received the warmest welcome when I delivered that message! And what is up with that? Isn’t it obvious that project success will increase? Increased collaboration with your stakeholders? More control over what you do on a daily basis?
Well, like so many things in life it is simply not enough to just take Bob’s word on faith that it will be true (even though you know you want to lol). And to be honest, for many people the idea of being a Business Analyst and a leader sounds like a challenge to change not only what they do but who they are. So I have been on a quest to make this idea more relatable, palatable and just plain make sense. Why? Because I do not believe that you have to change who you are or even necessarily reinvent what you do to be a leader.
I went back to my training leadership roots and training from Covey and Carnegie which were instrumental to my personal growth. I searched my files for articles and presentations on leadership. All of it very good information. Foundational. Inspirational. But what I want to tap into is how it applies to real-life project application moments that Business Analysts live today, and that is a different flavor from the standard training and materials I grew up with. Additionally, how can I say it in a 600 word blog?
Finally, after resorting to the internet (shudder) like Moses parting the Red Sea, I found a definition that really resonated in me with what I have been trying to say (just better). And it was of course in the last place I looked – Wikipedia. Go figure. That global site that some of us find useful, some of us ridicule for inaccuracy and some of us revel in its ability to impart more information than we can possibly digest.
And here is what I found… “Leadership is stated as the process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.”(*)
When you think about it, is that not the crux of what a BA needs to do? You enlist people to help you reach the requirements goals (what you have planned) for the project. You elicit – they give back. They inform – you analyze and translate. You document – they review. You baseline – they dramatically change scope but you react with aplomb and roll with the punches. You are leading through social influence in each of those areas (and more) while utilizing a set methodology. You don’t need to change what you do because you follow a methodology (and if you do not then we should talk). You simply try to do it the best you can. You do not need to change who you are because social influence is best done by being yourself. WYSIWYG please! Transparency really does go a long way for trust and credibility which makes people more open to your influence.
I am not trying to oversimplify what leadership is but I do like the formula of [methodology + transparency + social influence = leader] and therefore [BA + leader = success]! Yes, there will be societal, corporate culture and other unseen forces that could impact your ability to lead. All of which I would say are opportunities for your social influence. Business Analysts are leaders. They get people onboard with how they will contribute to business analysis and in turn, achieve extraordinary project results! What do you think? Let me know!
(*) Chemers, M. M. (2002) Meta-cognitive, social, and emotional intelligence of transformational leadership.