Leading Product Development as a Business Analyst

Follow The Leader

If you think about it, leadership probably comes naturally for most Business Analysts. We are owning our features, collaborating with developers, answering questions (from all directions), and ultimately leading the overall effort from a business perspective. Everyone around us is following our ideas and requirements for a given feature—that makes us pretty powerful in my opinion. With that power, we have to be very careful to be sure that we are leading others down the “right” path for a given feature. We have to be sure that we have done our research and talked to our stakeholders (over and over again sometimes) to ensure we understand the problem that needs to be solved. Then, and only then, are we able to effectively lead the charge towards the solution. 

In our leadership efforts we also need to be cognizant of the fact that our teammates are watching us. They are watching our facial expressions, reactions to the good and the bad, the way that we conduct ourselves professionally—really everything we do. That means we should hold ourselves to a higher standard. I know sometimes it can be challenging, but we should always try to be positive and lead by example. Our behavior determines how we influence others. I have found that when you are positive and approachable, then feature development and deployment tend to be more successful. I think this is because developers and QA feel like they can come to you with anything; especially if you lead your feature and are continuously patient and engaged throughout the process.  

Remember as a child playing the game Follow The Leader? In that game it is up to the leader to decide the actions or paths the others (in a line behind them) take. Usually the leader begins with simple actions, but eventually it gets more challenging as they go. That is a lot like a Business Analyst.  We start with defining the problem for a given feature and some high-level user scenarios, but eventually we lead our developers into challenging designs and complex user scenarios. These complex situations are not always fun. You have to continue to do your research and provide clarity along the way. This can still lead to additional questions that you, as the Business Analyst, are responsible for answering. However, if you are a good leader and can stay focused on the end goal then everyone else will follow suit. We are all in this #together—lead the way!