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BA Manager Forum
The BA Leadership Code

Last November, BA practice leaders attended a BA Manager Forum event to discuss what should constitute a leadership code for the profession. The session was led by Ian Richards, Director for Business Analysis at Capita. The session took its lead from a similar exercise, completed by the British Army, that Ian had seen at first hand.

While there is plenty of general discussion about the “leadership” concept, it is rarer to find informed comment on the actual values and behaviours that should be applied when leading a given profession. The BA Manager Forum workshop endeavoured to establish a leadership code for business analysis that comprised a set of values and behaviours deemed relevant for BA leaders.

The session adopted the same approach as that used by the British Army when it sought to redefine itself for a new generation and shape best practice and behaviours. While the two professions operate in very different environments, applying the Army principles offered an opportunity to learn from experience and define a code that would benefit BA leaders.

Leadership

Around 80 managerial level business analysts considered and defined the top five values that should be required of BA leaders. This was achieved by a straightforward voting process based on 13 fundamental values.

The top five values identified (in order of their scores) are:

  1. Integrity
  2. Teamwork
  3. Empathy
  4. Professionalism
  5. Self-improving 

The top three values scored particularly highly amongst the delegates. Other values that did not make the top five but gained reasonable scores were accountability and courage.

Once the top five values had been identified, workshop attendees were asked to define the behaviours that support and/or are driven by these values. The behaviours they identified are listed in the following table.

Value Behaviours
Integrity
  • Being honest, transparent and truthful with your team
  • Following through on stated actions or commitments 
  • Aligning with expected company behaviours 
  • Maintaining confidentiality and discretion 
  • Being respectful 
  • Applying consistency of approach, and equal and fair treatment of colleagues. 
  • Willing to challenge when appropriate 
  • Standing by values/beliefs

Teamwork

  • Working towards shared goals not own agenda
  • Sharing knowledge 
  • Listening to others
  • Trusting others 
  • Respecting others and their views 
  • Playing to each other’s strengths 
  • Supporting people with weaknesses
  • Providing a safe environment to work in 
  • Removing hierarchy and silos 
  • Working collaboratively 
  • Being flexible 
  • Being enthusiastic
Empathy
  • Listening actively – giving time and being genuinely interested
  • Being responsive 
  • Standing in other’s shoes and demonstrating willingness to understand 
  • Being open minded
  • Demonstrating tolerance and acceptance 
  • Having emotional intelligence
  • Giving recognition 
  • Being sensitive to situation/environment 
  • Tailoring messages 
Professionalism
  • Professionalism
  • Leading by example
  • Delivering on promises
  • Selling the role “walk the walk” 
  • Having respect for other’s values 
  • Working to the best of your ability “bring your best game” 
  • Maintaining positivity 
  • Being a role model
  • Self-reflecting 
  • Looking forwards and seeing the wider professional picture 
  • Advocating for the profession 

Self-improving

  • Self-improving 
  • Being open to feedback 
  • Being proactive in seeking opportunities for self-improvement 
  • Recognising weaknesses and having willingness to address
  • Promoting and championing self-improvement 
  • Encouraging feedback 
  • Reacting positively to feedback 
  • Thinking ahead and setting objectives/targets for self-improvement 

It was clear to all attendees that values and behaviours are inextricably linked. The values you demonstrate will only be accepted if the behaviours you demonstrate match your stated values.

One attendee made an interesting observation relating to personal values aligning to organisational values. If organisational values change, and are then out of line with personal values, this can have a negative effect on individual behaviours and the ability to inspire.

It was also observed that when thinking about leadership our focus needs to be on relationships. This may be obvious but too often we may concentrate on completing tasks and not enough on the relationships we have with those around us.

Leadership commentators agree that behaviours can be developed and improved; it is not simply a case of having natural leadership skill. This Business Analysis leadership code is intended to be a useful start point for anyone seeking to improve their own values and behaviours in order to progress their development as a BA leader. 

 

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