Since 2003 I have been helping individuals and organisations implement data governance and since 2011 I’ve been running training courses on data governance. One of the interesting things that I have noticed is that most people think data governance is a technical or analytical subject, but in reality the majority of data governance activities are undertaken by business users.

I have discovered the most successful data governance schemes are run as change management initiatives, led and supported by individuals with well developed soft skills.

Passion, enthusiasm and the ability to motivate others towards achievement of a goal, whether in data governance or any major change programme, will stack the odds of success in your favour. To some of you reading this, Data Governance may seem a strange thing to be passionate about, but consider this:

If you’re not buying it, they’re not buying it!

And that means bad news for everyone.

Being a strong communicator is also a huge asset. You will need to convince people on a large scale, and influence them individually when proposing new approaches to governing their data. As with any change there will be resistance and having the soft skills to deal with that resistance positively definitely works to your advantage.

If you are currently working on a data governance initiative and feel that communication skills are not your strong suit, don’t worry – they can be learned through training, coaching and of course practice!

For example, in my standard one day course there is a section entirely devoted to the soft skills you need to be successful at data governance. The day is also full of group exercises and discussions to help attendees practice sharing their passion for the subject.

So whatever stage you currently are in your data governance journey don’t forget that spending some time focussing on your soft skills will make a significant contribution to the success of your initiative.

(About the author: Nicola Askham is The Data Goverance Coach. This post originally appeared on her blog, which can be viewed here)

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