I am a Senior Business Analyst with 8+ years of experience in Business Analysis, Product Management and Software Development.
I was working on a project with a complete agile team which included a ‘Scrum Master’, ‘Product Owner’ and ‘Development Team’. As a Business Analyst I was a part of development team working closely with product owner. I was new to the organization and got this project immediately after joining, so naturally I was nervous because a good performance was expected out of me.
Project was complex, at least for me. So in requirement discovery phase, one of the senior solution consultant was leading the requirement gathering workshops. I was working with him on ‘shadow’ mode where I observed all the discussions and accordingly identified epics and user stories. This was a 1 month exercise.
So quick forward to end of the project discovery month. Since the solution consultant work was finished, so he got onboarded to a new project. And his place was supposed to be taken by a new product owner. During this time, I had to work on all the epics, user stories, user story mapping, workflows etc. I was very nervous that whether my new product owner is going to like the work that I have done so far or not.
The day came when she reviewed my work. We got on call and something unexpected happened that was really not even the last thing on my list. She appreciated my work. She told me that the way I have maintained the user story map is really good and going forward it will help in sprint planning.
That day and that meeting really changed the my whole approach of working. It really boosted my self confidence. All the nervousness was replaced by fresh energy to do more good work to make this product development a big success. With hard work and dedication, it became successful. During this whole course, my product owner gave me numerous constructive feedbacks on how can I improve my business analysis career and what to do so that I can direct it towards next stepping stone. She always told me that how I was one the key players to make this product successful. Despite being senior to me in all sense, she never tried to be a bureaucratic manager. She is my mentor now and constantly gives me good advice in variety of verticals where I can improve my self.
Now the reason to tell this whole story is that we need to understand the importance of having a good leader. A leader you choose to work with and can follow their footsteps to create a great professional journey. I want to highlight some of the points here that I learned on how to be a good leader.
1. Constructive Feedbacks
During the whole journey, it was never just about praises. I got a lot of feedbacks on where I have to and should improve. These feedbacks were always constructive to make sure that I don’t loose confidence in my own approach of working. At the same time, she was always honest and straight forward. If something is not right, then she used to tell that.
2. Observe from a distance
She was well aware of my work but never micromanaged. Having the freedom to do mistakes was probably one of the best things that happened in my professional life. All my tasks were reviewed and when required she was there to pull me out of tight corners.
3. Listening to respond rather than react
Business Analysis and Product Management are dynamic roles. There is no one way to get to the end point. During discussions around product management or solution identification, my thought was always heard during discussions. Our discussions are always cohesive.
4. Sharing knowledge
When you are experienced, often there is a subconscious thought that if I share all my knowledge with someone else then they will become better than me. My mentor never had this issue. She never hesitated to share all that she knows about business analysis or product management. Infact, she recently shared her entire approach on how she approaches to understand product requirements.
When you are in working on a time boxed project, there is not enough time to keep a problem or a blocker to yourself. If you don’t have all the answer, it becomes a responsibility to consult with someone who has the answers. For this, she always made sure to let me know that I can reach out to her anytime. And really, this is one of the key points for not having any spillovers during product delivery.
6. Be a Leader
One of the best qualities that I can see. No doubt she is a good leader and mentor, but to see and develop those qualities in others is a sign of great leader. She always pushes me to take bigger role than what I have right now. Merely doing tasks for the day given to me will not help me in achieving goals.
These are some of the great qualities that I have seen in my mentor. These qualities have helped me in having a different perspective about my professional life. This experience have helped me to absorb a lot of good characteristics and apply it. For those who are reading this, if you got chance to work with some of the great leaders, please do share your experience.
© 2022 Manish Shukla