Can your data team cultivate their soft skills to deliver results?

Can you help your data team deliver extraordinary results?Can you help your data team deliver extraordinary results?

Today we are talking about what skills you need to deliver results through your data team. I believe data science has limitless possibilities. This is the good and bad of data science. To succeed, you will need to develop and build stronger data teams.

The way you manage and lead your data teams determines how successful your efforts are. It also determines your career success for the rest of your professional career. No pressure here. The good news is you have time to develop these management and leadership skills.

Successful data team leaders will find unlimited possibilities in their careers. Data scientists who do not work well on teams will be sent to the far reaches of their organization to create algorithms and work with unhappy internal stakeholders and customers. Just kidding, but you may be removed from your data team.

Before we go much further I would like to say, please don’t shoot the messenger. I could be wrong about the potential future. The world is changing, the futurists I consult with are certain we are moving in a team based business paradigm. How we get there is still up in the air.

I see several key elements required to be a successful data team leader. The first quality of great data team leader is you must become good at recruiting people to your team. Successful data team leaders are good at spotting, attracting, and developing their team members.

Take time and read any job descriptions for your data team members. You will discover an unlimited amount of technical jargon and skills are required to do the job. Every search I’m doing today highlights technical capabilities. However, when I talk with the hiring managers it comes down to the soft side of the role.

My client’s executives expects their people to have strong technical skills. I believe the more successful data science team members will also have superior soft skills. They will have a high level of emotional intelligence. These individuals will know how to consult with their internal and external stakeholders at a very high level.

Many data teams will be embedded throughout the organization. This will require managers to be able to work with their teams remotely. It will also require a higher level of leadership to get desired results from others who are out outside their direct reporting structures. In a word influence. Over the next three months we will share ideas that will help you and your data team to influence other people up and down the organizational chart.

One of the challenges I see for your team members is to be able to remain professionally detached from the different people they are supporting. Part of what makes data scientists successful is their ability to remain detached when looking at a given situation. Developing critical thinking capabilities are essential to achieving organizational goals and objectives.

Because data team members are working so closely with other departments, the lines may blur. This is an indirect consequence of having many younger members on your team. They may have a different focus than you do when exploring possible challenges or opportunities.

When competing for limited resources, people have been known to shade results in a way that guarantees continued funding for projects.  Your data team members are going to help shape discussions with many competing parts of the organization. I know you understand this happens in organizations on a regular basis.

The more we try to build an organization without politics, the more political our organizations become. Data can become the ultimate political tool if we do not understand how organizations can manipulate information to get what they want.  Strong data team members will need to know how to deal with these emerging realities.

They must become capable of framing up both large and small issues to determine what aspects of a project are completed early to get the bigger return on their time for their resources invested. Many times it will require data team members to understand their clients. They provide the key information in the right format to get a response. Teaching and coaching team members on data visualization, storytelling, and illustrations will help organizations successfully act on the information they receive.

Finally, data team members will have superior communications skills that translates into getting others to take action on what they learn. Benjamin Disraeli once said “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies and statistics.” Knowing how you present your ideas is just as important as the results that you are receiving.

I believe we are entering a time with incredible opportunities for leaders who can maximize the impact of their data teams across the organization. Over the upcoming months we will go into more detail on how to achieve your ultimate life and business goals.

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