Maintaining fearless monk-like attitude while leading Analytics teams
One of my mentors had the following thought written in one of the presentation he was making:
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude”
Compared to some other industries, Analytics still has higher dependence on aptitude. As per my experience and observation, following is more appropriate for people in Analytics industry:
Your aptitude decides whether you can survive in Analytics industry and your attitude defines the altitude you achieve in life
In mathematical terms, if can be defined as something like this:
Altitude = b(Aptitude) x fn(attitude)
where b is a boolean function which becomes 1 over a certain threshold of aptitude. Once you have the right aptitude, your attitude defines how far do you reach in the journey. In more layman terms, your aptitude promotes you from an Individual contributor to a bigger role, but it is your attitude, which decides whether you can become a leader in this industry.
Before I proceed further, let me call out that this is my take on what is the ideal attitude to succeed while leading Analytics teams. If you have a difference of opinion, please feel free to start a discussion through comments below.
According to me, you need to maintain a fearless monk like attitude in order to do a good job while leading Analytics teams. Following are the reasons why I say so:
- A monk aims to and is always curious to find out truth about a subject. This is the drive you need to find out those deeply burried insights.
- A monk does not give up his search for truth in face of love, fear or any adverse situation. Similarly, an analyst needs to stay objective about his analysis without thinking about the impact of outcomes.
- A monk is deeply passionate about learning and enhancing knowledge. You need to be on top of latest techniques and technologies in order to succeed as a leader.
So, what are the characteristics of a fearless monk? I am sharing them with a hope that they will help bridge some gap between the demand and the supply of good Analytics leaders.
Here are the characteristics as I see them:
1. Stay calm, composed and objective with an uncluttered mind. As analysts, we often work in high pressure environment with tight deadlines. However, this should not impact the quality of the analysis being produced. You can not make an error, especially so when timelines are short! Maintaining calm, composed and uncluttered mind is the only way you can come out of this situation.
2. Keep it simple – Focus on what is important and work hard. As an analyst, you are expected to have passion for complicated problems and high attention to details. This makes us an easy prey in a situation where you can make things complex. More often than not, complex situations get solved by simple solutions. Once you know the problem, identify the 20% of area which will give 80% of benefit and work hard to make sure that gets delivered flawlessly.
3. Know your strength and weakness and stay confident. Everyone has their strengths and weakness. Knowing them, making sure that you focus on your strengths to deliver the results while being aware of your weakness can produce astonishing results. While writing it down is easy, only a person with deep understanding about himself can do this.
4. Enjoy the process and never shy away from expressing yourself. Until and unless you enjoy the process, you can not lead people. Most of the good leaders I know will have glitter in their eyes on mention of getting an opportunity to slice and dice data themselves. Whether it is data cleaning, collection or iterating your model for nth time, you have to love each part of the process. Also, during the process, you have to add the value you can. So if you can think of a solution, but not sure whether it will work out – at least try it out. Because, until it is tried out, you will never know whether it could have worked.
5. Lead by example. Your team gets the best form of motivation when this happens. Whether it is a difficult stakeholder to meet, or you want the team to spend time on learning. All of these are best demonstrated by leading the way. Once you have set an example, it is always easy for the team to follow.
6. Knowing your team members and backing them up. If you have ever observed a group of monks working together, you will know what I mean. There is infinite trust in the capability of team members. And this trust does not falter in face of difficult times, it actually makes things seamless and easy. You have to back up your team members when they are down after a bad meeting or after an undesired result.
7. Humility and levelheadedness – Last but not the least, you have to maintain humility as a leader. This is an aspect which defines you as a human and it develops on its own when you start caring about people. One of the best illustration of humility I have seen in recent past is last speech of Sachin Tendulkar before hanging up his boots from international cricket.
I am a big fan of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. For those of you who follow cricket (even by a distance), you would know whom I am talking about. For those of you who don’t follow cricket, here is his brief profile. If you have seen Dhoni play, he does not have the best playing technique (aptitude), but his success as a leader is down to his attitude. He is a perfect example of these characteristics personified.
What do you think about maintaining a fearless monk-like attitude? Any thoughts on the characteristics and how to foster them? Any practices to share? Please feel free to share them through comments below.