Tips to move your Business Analyst career to a Business Leader Role

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The top executives of the company, leadership positions like the CEO, CTO, CXO, etc., are highly coveted. Every employee dreams that one day they ascend to the top echelon in the organization.

The leadership role is a strategic one and is one of the most important roles in the organization. This role not only has one of the highest remunerations in the organization but also is the most influential and aspired one.

But as they say, “With great power comes great responsibilities”, and so notably the one in the leadership role in the organizations has the largest portion of responsibility.

The business leader in the organization should ideally have an inside out knowledge of the operations of the company, its end to end processes, and strategic planning insights.

A business analyst performs a similar role, albeit, at a much smaller scale in their projects/ business units. They need to know the inside out of their projects, be aware of its end to end processes and insightful analysis capabilities.

When one is given higher responsibilities, their dreams are invariably limitless. If you are a proactive BA, diligent at your work, are creative and innovative, you can climb the management ladder to reach the topmost level. The only thing that can inhibit you is how you plan your career. Have confidence and believe in yourself to take your career to the top level.

Business Analysts act as a bridge between the different departments of a company. A business analyst works with various departments and in essence, is a channel bringing solutions to business problems. They work as advisors to various parts of the business, they bring improvements to processes, they introduce new technologies and products, in short, they continuously work towards making processes and outcomes better.

Business analysts who aspire for leadership roles should have a deep business acumen that spans functions, technology fluency, and strong analytical and problem-solving skills. For this, BAs should acquire and hone skillsets & knowledge, even those beyond their comfort zone, which are required for a leadership role. They need to be multidimensional professionals with broad business, IT, and leadership skills.

With this in mind, here is an outline of several skillsets that BAs should work on as they prepare to surge forward in their career paths.

  • Broaden your cross-functional knowledge

A business analyst works as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization. They provide solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.

In order to grow in their role, BAs need to step-up on this and seek challenges and knowledge outside their functional realm. They need to deepen their knowledge and functional expertise of the various departments/domains in the organization. This cross-functional inquisitiveness and honing of existing skills will help in empowering the BA to make more holistic recommendations and broadening the scope of their responsibilities.

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  • Familiarize yourself with process & IT management methodologies while increasing the technological knowledge & skills

In today’s world, technology rules the roost. To successfully move forward in their career progression BAs, need a relatively high degree of technological fluency. Executives who neglect their technical skills might be passed over. Outdated technical skills and knowledge can prove to be a shackle in today's technology-driven economy and can hamper strategic decisions and prove to be a yoke in the organization’s progress.

It is thus imperative for a BA to learn tools for business process charting, modeling to draw the current and the future vision of the process. Tools like MS Visio, Lucid Chart, BizAgi Business process modeler, etc., come in handy here.

A business analyst should seek to understand and utilize methodologies like Lean Six Sigma, CMMI, ITIL, etc., which helps to analyze the existing process, find flaws, and propose improvements. This enables broad-scale business innovation and improves IT performance and aligns IT with the business.

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  • Technical skills get you a job but behavioral skills take you to the top

As a BA expands and adapts their skillsets to succeed, behavioral skills will be worth their value in gold. For a business analyst, aspiring to move up the career ladder their behavioral skills are more important to their success than their analytical and technical expertise, especially as they need their recommendations to be accepted by all stakeholders and as they lead ever-changing teams and initiatives.

Every BA should have a unique blend of interpersonal skills. A few notable amongst those are

  • Problem-solving Skill
  • Decision Making Skill
  • Creative & Innovative Thinking
  • Analytical thinking Skill
  • Team Building Skill
  • Presentation Skill
  • Questioning Skill
  • Communication Skill
  • Listening Skill
  • Negotiation Skill
  • Conflict Resolution Skill
  • Facilitation Skill

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To be an effective and accepted leader, one needs to be good at relationship building. A good leader walks forward with their team. To be a successful leader and as they climb up the corporate ladder, a BA must hone their organizational change management skills, conflict resolution skills, leadership skills, and other interpersonal skills.

  • A sure-shot mantra to ‘Moving Up the Ladder’- Certification & Training

Tammy Bjelland said, “A learning curve is essential to growth.” It is no mystery thus to anyone that the only way to stay ahead in the game is by learning. Most successful business leaders concur that a continuous thirst for knowledge is one of the key elements in building a growing, and thriving career.

For a professional wanting to ascend the corporate ladder, one such tool for continuous learning is ‘Certifications & Training’. Certifications not only enhance the knowledge and skillsets but also give one an opportunity to learn things beyond the scope of their job. This also aids in gaining new perspectives of looking at problems and viable solutions. Becoming certified also enhances the professional value and potential of the person, indirectly communicating to the organization, future employers, and professional peers that the person is well-qualified and takes his/her career seriously. Certifications are often looked upon as the ‘badge of excellence’.

Business analysts have a number of industry-recognized certificates that they can acquire. Read about all the different BA certifications available in the market in this blog - Business Analysis Certifications

For a business analyst who is keen on climbing up the corporate ladder and moving on to the top leadership positions in the organization, tier-one certification from IIBA like CBAP and specialized certifications like CBDA and AAC would be of immense help.

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  • Hone & Develop Leadership Skills

John C Maxwell said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”

A business leader is a motivator, someone who leads his team in dreaming and achieving high, all conducive to achieving individual and organizational goals. A leader literary has the capacity to translate vision into reality.

Leadership skill in any organization is a prized asset. Any professional who dreams of seeing himself/herself at the top of the corporate ladder needs to be, without any doubt, in possession of good leadership skills.

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For a business analyst, leadership skills are never an uncharted territory. Most business analysts share a leadership role, working collaboratively with project managers. Organizational psychology, negotiation, collaboration, influencing, and the ability to broker conflict resolution from a position of neutrality have become key traits of a business analyst. Given this, it should be easier for BAs to hone up their leadership skills.

Business analysts can hone their leadership skills through the following activities:

  1. Taking initiative
  2. Being decisive
  3. Guiding others in their tasks
  4. Setting clear directions and goals
  5. Influencing others
  6. Being an example for others to emulate
  7. Continuously learning from others & situations
  8. Listening actively & Communicating clearly
  9. Having empathy & positivity
  10. Resolving conflicts

As a business leader, knowing the organization's goal and where to reach is only a small part of the equation – knowing how to get others to follow you there is the harder and more important part. And in this leadership skills of the professional makes a lot of difference.

It bodes well to remember that there is not one distinct path to business leadership for BAs, they will have to adapt and expand their skillsets to succeed.

Ultimately, a BA needs to ascertain the growth options available to them in their organization and determine the career path that works best for them. The business analysis skills they possess provides them with the core skills needed to advance into various types of leadership roles.

A business analyst is adept at working in different roles and has a very prosperous future. Following the steps mentioned above,

you can reach as high as your aspirations and diligence take you. Following a well-thought road map will be a lucrative and rewarding move.

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As a BA aspires to the top tiers of the organization to be a business leader, one should chalk out a road map for self. Honing existing skills, mastering new ones, and having the business acumen to climb-up the corporate ladder, along with chalking out and following a road-map are sure shot ways to climb up the ranks to become a prized executive.

In the words of Audrey Hepburn, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, ‘I’m possible!’”. So, let your dreams lead you to where you desire to be in your career. Don’t let the fear of failure and uncertainty intimidate you. Treat your stumbling blocks as a lesson worth their value in gold. Prepare yourself for the role and beyond, believe in your potential, be passionate about what you do, work hard, and most importantly- believe in the best for yourself.

It's said that if you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.

It is also rightly said the higher the goal, the harder the path, so you will have to be ready to fight many stumbling blocks on the way.

Move toward what you want and take every step necessary to get there. The end of that journey may just have you sitting in a boardroom, making decisions, chalking out growth plans, and shaping the future of the organization as a business leader.

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