Be Bold. Get Inspired. Take Action.
Not another leadership post, please
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In May, IIBA launched its annual Leadership Series. The Leadership Series highlights a specific book and is facilitated by business analysis practitioners and volunteers from around the globe. Not only do they summarize the book’s details, but they also provide real-world examples from their own professional lives. This year’s Leadership Series focuses on The Future Leader: Nine Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade by Jacob Morgan. (Digital copies of the book are available to IIBA members via the Digital Online Library.)
Admittedly, when the book selection was announced, I was thinking “Okay, here we go. Another leadership book.” (Insert slight sarcastic tone.) However, I was less than 30 pages into the book, and I was hooked. I knew then that my next blog post was going to be about leadership. (Insert another sarcastic internal dialogue “Great. Another online article on leadership. That’s original, Koryn.”) My hope is that this article is a little bit different. My hope is that I don’t dictate to you what characteristics or traits you need to become a (good) leader. Instead, I hope you get as excited as I was to ASK your leaders and the people in your life questions about leadership.
Specifically, in the book, Jacob Morgan interviews leaders from various size companies and industries, from around the world. In his interviews, he starts very easily with “How do you define leadership?” Despite the vast number of experienced leaders in our world, a lot of the interviewees had NOT been asked that question before. I completely mirrored Morgan’s reaction – WHAT? By the way, this revelation is on page 17 of the book. At this point, my (in)famous curiosity and subconscious went into hyperdrive, and I have been asking this question non-stop since. I have asked myself; I have asked my BA Community of Practice; I have asked my CIO; and, of course, I have asked our 2021 Volunteers of the Year (VOY).
We have entire industries dedicated to corporate training and self-improvement; and each one has its own definition and embodiment of leadership. What we find is that the definitions are diverse; they fit the individual’s or organization’s needs; and they can be simultaneously incomplete for others in different contexts.
Yasser Talat is a 2021 VOY as well as one of this year’s facilitators in the Leadership Series. He defines leadership: “I simply think leadership is guiding those around you in whatever initiative to achieve the best value for them and for the initiative at the same time. This is done through some skills and some mindsets as per the mentioned book ‘The Future Leader.’ This also includes being inspiring, supportive and respectful.”
From Yasser’s definition, you can see that leadership does not inherently imply (or even mention) people management. In fact, Morgan discusses the difference between managers and leaders; he even states that not all leaders are managers, but all managers should be leaders. Is this true in your organization? I realized recently in an unrelated (but strikingly intersected) conversation that we need to remind people of this distinction. The discussion revolved around “leaders of leaders,” and the examples provided were largely “managers of managers.” I took the opportunity to ask if leadership here meant people management or thought leadership or both. The other party quickly aligned with the thought leadership perspective and provided additional examples; however, it struck me nonetheless that when we think of leadership, we oftentimes think of people management first.
Georges Bryson also provided his definition of leadership from a Forbes article by Kevin Kruse: “Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.” He then effortlessly created a mash-up definition by inserting it into the definition of Business Analysis from the BABOK® Guide (“The practice of enabling change in an organizational context by defining needs
and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders”). The result is as follows…
“The practice of enabling change in an organizational context by defining needs, leveraging the process of social influences and recommending solutions towards the achievement of a goal, that deliver value to stakeholders while also maximizing their efforts (collaboration at its finest).”
We all know that business analysts are leaders, but Georges hybrid definition might be my new standard.
So, when you reflect on leadership, I challenge you to ASK the following…
- How do you define leadership?
- By this definition, are the managers in your organization leaders?
- Why / How do business analysts fit into this definition?
- What has the pandemic done to evolve that definition?
If you are interested in exploring The Future Leader further, please join us for the Leadership Series. The sessions thus far have been recorded, and the format encourages Q&A and dialogue on these concepts.
Additional references on leadership:
- The Art of Leadersheep by Arne Roock (7-minute video)
- What is Leadership? By Kevin Kruse (Forbes article)
- Business Analysis and Leadership: Influencing Change by Penny Pullan (book)
- Our Iceberg is Melting by John Kotter (book)
- Turn the Ship Around! by L. David Marquet (book)
Reminder: 2021 Volunteers of the Year:
- Eastern Region: Georges Bryson - Montreal
- West/Central Region: Debbi Levin - Phoenix
- Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, and India: Yasser Talat - Egypt
- Europe Region: Claude Duc - Geneva
Be Bold features members, volunteers, and Chapters who are taking bold action. If you have a story to tell or a recommendation for future inclusion, please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you know IIBA Membership includes access to every IIBA Chapter? Unlock your business analysis potential and grow your career with IIBA Membership. Network with your local community, attend complimentary events around the world, use tools like the Career Action Guide, and more.
About the Author:
Koryn Anderson enjoyed a couple of careers before finding her ultimate one. She has been a business analyst for more than 10 years and is currently a Lead Business Analyst at Baird. She is passionate about the BA discipline, has her CBAP® certification, is Past President of the Southeast Wisconsin Chapter, and is the current Communications Director for the Global Chapter Council.