In my humble opinion…

Just as there is no single definition of what business analysis is, there is no one notion of what attributes a business analyst should have, so I thought I would write a series of short posts putting forward what I think makes a business analyst.

You will notice that I said “attributes” and not skills, because no one is merely the sum total of the “tricks” they can perform. We are not circus seals, we are people. We should see each other as people and in order to do that, we must first see ourselves as people.

The characteristic that springs to mind first is humility.

I know, I know.

It sounds cheesy, but to me it seems a natural choice with which to start my list.

By “humility” I do not mean false modesty or subservience. The latter, fawning, forelock-tugging, behaviour demeans both the sycophant and the target of his attentions. Subservience is borne either of a lack of self esteem or of the desire to deceive and manipulate others for one’s own secret ends. Either way, subservience is a sign of weakness.

"If I do say so myself, humility has always been one of my strongest attributes."

"If I do say so myself, humility has always been one of my strongest attributes."

Humility is a sign of strength. It bespeaks self-respect and a self-confidence that does not fall into arrogance. It enables a willingness to listen to others and to fairly evaluate ideas that do not originate from oneself. Humility allows one to openly acknowledge one’s mistakes and apologise for them. It allows one to see value in the opinions of those less experienced. It allows one to accept criticism for what it is, directly and without needing to have it sugar-coated.

Have I ever failed to show humility in the workplace? Yes. On occasion, confidence that I was right has led me to demonstrate arrogance. The fact that I did not mean to be arrogant is irrelevant. Arrogance was demonstrated and felt by those around me. My saving grace? I subsequently recognised my behaviour for what it was and apologised for it.

I value humility in myself and others very highly and if we ever meet and I fail to show humility when I should, I would value your telling me bluntly and without sugar coating.

Bear in mind, though, humility is something you strive for, not something you have. As soon as you think you have it, that’s precisely when you lose it.

Kind regards,

Declan Chellar

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