Would teams be effective without leaders? This seems like a silly question. Every team has a leader! I would agree that every team has a role for a leader; however, not every team has a person fulfilling this role. Effective teams have shared purpose, a vision, and work together to accomplish a goal. This is achieved through leadership. Looking back at my career and teams I have worked on, what makes the teams most effective? What I find, is that the teams with courageous leaders are ones with positive results. These are the teams that I would want to work on again. In observing this, I find these leaders to be courageous. Three courageous traits are to delegate with encouragement, advocate for what is needed, and to invite team members to leave.
1. Delegate with Encouragement
Leadership is a natural trait I possess, the ability to delegate is not! I had an assignment where I was a lead BA and had great relationships with other BAs on the team. The manager of the team had left and that position was open. The other BAs wanted me to apply for the manager position, which was flattering. When I thought about that, I decided that I didn’t want that opportunity because then I would need to find someone to do what I needed to do for the project! I didn’t want to delegate that responsibility to someone else! As a team member who has been given delegated tasks, I admire those leaders that gave me the opportunity to learn and grow. They guided me as I struggled and overcame obstacles and became better. I know this takes courage to allow others to tackle problems. They may fail and as a leader you are on the hook for the outcome. I have watched leaders who are good delegators and learned to have courage. You will survive a delegation! The key is to have open communication and allow for team members to ask for help. Make it safe to struggle and reach out for assistance. Create an environment of learning through success and failure. I am not sure I have every really learned anything if I haven’t failed in some way through the lesson.
2. Advocate for what team members need
Courageous leaders are advocates for team members. Advocacy is something that comes easily for me. I champion this as a business analyst. Advocacy from my leaders creates safety for me to be a good advocate for my business and IT partners. Knowing that I have a leader who has delegated an assignment to me and will stand by me through everything I do is critical to team success. Teams with leaders that will throw them into the lion’s den at the first sign of trouble as they run for cover will not be effective. A great example of advocacy I experienced was a leader who insisted I receive training for a workflow software system. I was the BA implementing the workflow solution and there was pushback from the IT area that I didn’t need training. Why would I need training as a BA? Well, of course I had asked for training to create the best solution for my business partners and my leader fully supported it. I felt appreciated and that drove my desire to be more effective. It would have been easy for that leader to accept that answer and not listen to what I needed. The exact opposite happened. I found my leader’s courage inspiring!
3. Invite team members to leave
Perhaps the most courageous leadership trait is the ability to recognize when a team member isn’t the right resource for the team. Everyone has skills and a place in organizations. Recognizing a team member’s skills and traits and coaching them to a new position takes great courage. The other team members appreciate this and can be most effective when the team members are able to tackle the problem they are working on. In my first consulting assignment I was on team that needed to untangle a series of complex interfaces with layers of business rules and detailed data requirements. The team had a critical timeline and a lot of work to do. The leader I worked with taught me many things. She exhibited great courage when faced with decisions on staffing her team. One of the other BAs brought on after me was unfamiliar with some basic BA tools such as workflow diagramming in Visio and using screen shots to create mock-ups. I was a bit surprised at this skill set gap, I expected contractor BA resources to have superior skills. I am a person who could help with this; however that is not what I hired for. I shared the requests for help with my leader and she had to make the courageous choice to invite this contractor to leave the team. This happened again with a team member that was not driving the requirements process independently. This contractor needed a lot of guidance to accomplish this work. Given the tasks at hand, this was not going to work. She had to issue another invitation. This may seem harsh, however, it was necessary. I appreciated her swift action and decisions. I was inspired by her as well.
I appreciate leadership and how that creates effective teams. I am inspired when I see courageous leadership actions. I aspire to be a courageous leader that delegates, advocates, and finds the best fit for my teams. If only all our teams had courageous leaders, what could we accomplish?
Heather, A BA Without Borders