One common thing we often hear is that BAs are under appreciated. We typically do not sign purchase orders, and we do not manage teams of people. We are workers around requirements, and we are not managers or leaders. I want to talk specifically to the notion in this article about the BA as a leader.
There are many aspects of leadership that are important, but none more so than the ability to influence an organization to get desired business outcomes. Influence can come from anywhere in an organization, and is not necessarily associated with folks with “manager” in their job title. Influence is really what brings about change and drives an agenda. It is what gets results in an organization.
Every organization is a political arena in which every department and division of the organization has its own goals and objectives. For an organization to be effective, it has to succeed at each of these levels, but it also has to be able to cross departments and do some common goals. Especially in large complex problem areas, or large initiatives, this ability to understand and comprehend the problem, and enable collaboration, and influence towards that common view is the critical skill for the organization to possess.
BAs that are at the top of their game are often in a position to see the bigger picture, and have the tools and techniques at their disposal to deal with complexity. Once they see the objective, they can use their influence skills and their collaboration skills to drive out a solution that works to get the various business groups to a solution that works for everyone.
So how do we become good leaders? Too often we see managers, and even executives in an organization who are reasonably good managers, but who are not good leaders. They cannot harness the organization, and they do not get the desired results. There can be several explanations for this, but one is tied to how well they do with relationships, and then they struggle with being good influencers. Good leaders are good influencers.
BAs need to continually grow their relationship skills. They need to be seen as the “go to” players by the business and by their peers. They need to be courageous and raise issues, but they need to do so after applying analysis, and having evidence to support their opinions. They need to leverage their relationship, and be able to communicate and tell stories in ways that convince a team to see things differently if they feel the group is going off track. In the book by John Maxwell, titled “The 360 Degree Leader” the concept of leadership from the middle is well described, and should be a must read for all BAs. Learning to be a better influencer will enable any BA to be more effective and more able to improve business outcomes, which at the end of the day, is what we are about.
IIBA® is very much about making sure BAs are seen as leaders, and in helping create BAs grow personally and professionally. This year, IIBA is offering some online leadership webinars, and we have had over 800 people sign up for these events. We are also presenting a full day, in-person event immediately following the BBC in November at the same hotel as BBC. This format will allow significant hands on workshop type work and discussion groups on leadership. Of course, one way to develop leadership is to become a Chapter officer. This experience is valuable, and often provides a significant learning opportunity that you may not find in your “day job”. For sure, it will challenge your influence skills, and hopefully be rewarding to give back to the profession. Volunteer at a local Chapter and see how you can contribute and grow into a bigger leadership role over time.