This month I present leadership characteristics six through 10 for BI and CRM leaders to accede to, succeeding the top five presented last month.

6. Organization Skills. Organization skills involve organizing the people, processes and technologies toward a meaningful time-framed scope. There have been no best practice programs that were accomplished without the active support of many people. It's the leadership generating the intrinsic motivation of the team and constituents that has brought out the best in people. Extrinsic rewards do not explain much activity in BI and CRM development.

Participants knowing what is required of them is also a key to successful project organization. If people can't keep score or don't know what goes into the scoring, it will be nearly impossible to play a good game. Although not everything should have to be spelled out to the letter, too many expect there to be abilities among the team to discern expectations beyond what is reasonable.

Cooperative, rather than individual, goals also tend to generate the best results. Stable teams whose members believe they will continue to work with their peers and management well after the project lead to cooperation. Though not easy to find these days, those teams that have not cut it to the bone during this time of economic instability are continuing to advance the BI and CRM programs of their companies and get ahead of the competition. One very successful BI project manager once confided to me, "Getting people to work together democratically every day is the hardest thing I've had to do, yet it was the most important thing."

7. Assertiveness Skills. If you were to list the skills you associate with BI/CRM leadership, you would likely associate that leadership with turnaround situations – pulling it off when you thought it would not happen, creating new alliances, resolving serious crises, and instigating cultural change and innovation. Leaders shine in moments of turbulence and change. Managers shine in moments of stability. Both functions are needed and can be found in the same person, but they appear to be different skill sets.

Leaders are important because of their ability to move the ball forward. This will not happen without asserting the need for change upon the organization which is still usually more than happy to allow for management passivity until "suddenly" deciding there has been no accomplishment, followed by demotions – or worse.

This is difficult without experience, yet a few seem to make the most of their experience, which only comes about when there are successes and failures. Indeed, both success and failure breed success in BI and CRM leaders. Having neither breeds failure, so it is absolutely essential that risks are taken to gain the assertiveness necessary to achieve leadership. Treating every assignment as a turnaround situation, even if it is not, is an approach of the effective leaders I've had the pleasure of working with. Leaders have not proved their leadership until a turnaround is accomplished.

8. Creativity Skills. One reason for the lack of widespread standards in BI is that creativity is necessary to meet so many diverse needs. There is no "one size fits all," so leaders must be creative to be successful.

Creativity in this context refers to fitting solutions into the bigger objectives that maybe haven't been forged before or combining disparate elements of other projects into a new collective whole.

9. Financial Acumen. These days, BI and CRM projects are about payback. Beyond experience with architecting and delivery, BI/CRM leaders need to be able to measure and account for the finances involved and have a sense of delivery of business value that is anticipated, measured, agreed and evangelized. Accounting to the dollar is not necessary, but assuring the value chain is solid between project activity and bottom-line improvement does appear to be characteristic of leadership in BI and CRM.

10. Technical Architecture Skills. Last, but not least, we are moving data around and managing it in technical architectures with BI and CRM. Individual products and solutions in the marketplace offer various types of analytic capability. BI and CRM terminology can be confusing with ingeniously subtle variations on common themes used throughout because there aren't enough suitable descriptive words to go around.

The skill of discernment and application of these products and solutions is of utmost importance for the technical team while the leadership must at least know what needs to be done and what good work is. To ferret out this aspect of a candidate's skills, check out my data warehouse competency exam at

This completes the list of the top 10 characteristics of a BI/CRM leader. Backing these with integrity will result in strong leadership. However, the path to the future is not paved. There's only forest. As you step into that wooded area, begin with an inner analysis of leadership among all 10 criteria.

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