In this episode, David Mantica shows us why it’s important for a Business Analyst to be T-shaped and how to develop the broad professional skills needed to be successful.


After listening to this episode, you'll understand:

  • What a referent power base is and how to use it
  • The five tangible professional skills you need to be successful
  • How to make changes and quickly adapt to your environment
  • What steps to take to build your professional skills

Show Notes

The business analysis profession is built upon being T-shaped. That means that the position requires both deep technical knowledge along with the core analysis skills and a broad set of professional skills and human understanding to deal with the complexities of the role.

T-shaped skills are critical for problem-solving positions, creative positions, and roles that need to bring alternate sides of a table together to collaborate and quickly come up with a high quality solution.


The T-Shape
When we look at a T-shaped employee, the top part of the T is comprised of two sections. On one side is the whole self and the other side is professional skills. The whole self deals with your understanding of stress. That includes an understanding of stress management and the way the brain processes information as well as nutrition and health. The site also includes a servant and pay it forward mindset.

The whole self is important because it allows you to deal with the stress that could otherwise lead to illness and loss of productivity. It also helps you to better understand some of the biases that influence our decision making.

Some tools for developing the whole self include meditation and even hobbies and activities outside of work. These tools allow you to enhance your cognitive skills which will allow you to be more effective in your role. There are real and tangible benefits to developing this side.

The professional skills side is made up of five skills that build upon each other. It starts with emotional intelligence which then builds and the conflict management. From there you build facilitation and negotiation skills. From those skills you develop change management and finally influencer skills. These five skills are the bedrock upon which you need to build your professional toolkit you need to be successful.

t-shaped business analyst

The five professional skills
The foundation of the professional skills side is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence ties into biochemical elements as well as professional management. The biochemical portion includes an understanding of brain function and reactions to stress including the fight or flight response. It also includes tools that you can use to cope with some of those unconscious reactions.

Emotional intelligence has four levels. Those four levels are self understanding, self management, situational understanding, and relationship management. You use emotional intelligence when you’re managing conflict, when you’re negotiating, when you’re dealing with change management, and to influence others.


Soft skills are hard
The five areas on the professional skills side can be difficult to develop. It’s not as easy as learning a new technique.

Start by developing emotional intelligence. This can be done by creating a better understanding of yourself, your hot buttons, and how you deal with others. Taking time to be introspective and reflect on your thoughts and behaviors can help develop emotional intelligence.

The next step is to use stretch assignments. Stretch assignments are great tool to get someone to go beyond their limits. The stretch assignment may put you in an environment or situation with which you are unfamiliar. You may even make mistakes and fail. The mistakes and failures allow you to learn and adapt as long as you are provided a safety net in the support you need. This creates a learning experience that will make you more productive and effective going forward.

Role-playing is also an effective way to develop professional skills. Role-playing allows you to practice certain skills in different situations and allows you to quickly get feedback and adapt.

The fourth action that you could take to develop your professional skills is to find a mentor. Find someone who is strong in the skills that you’re trying to develop and engage in a mentoring relationship.

Of course, reading and taking training classes can help you to understand theories and practice some of these soft skills. Understanding the theories behind some of these soft skills allows you to develop your awareness and self-awareness and recognize the behaviors in yourself and in others so you can take action to adapt.

Listen to the full episode to hear all of David’s tips and advice for building your skills and career success.



Your Homework

On the whole self side . . .

  • Read Dan Brown’s book 10% happier and look at the secular side of meditation, which reduces stress and allows you to better control negative self talk.
  • Begin to understand more about our brains and our brains function, which includes stress reactions and how to break habits and biases.

On the professional skills side . . .

  • Understand emotional intelligence and how to build that skill
  • Be aware that the bottom of the T, your professional discipline, may change three or four times in your career. You can no longer count on the bottom of your T to take you through your professional career. We may have to reinvent that deep professional discipline every six years.

What’s your take?

Do you have any suggestions for building your professional skills or human understanding?  What actions are you going to take to build your skills and advance your career?  Please share your thoughts and comments in the section below.


Links mentioned in this episode:

David Mantica

David Mantica

President, ASPE-SDLC

David Mantica has more than 20 years of experience in B2B continuing education. He has participated in and supported the work of numerous certifying bodies including the Scrum Alliance, PMI, IIBA, TrueSecure, and CompTIA. David also is a regular speaker at IIBA and PMI chapters.

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