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5 Things Every Data-driven Leader Does

What is as a leader? For some, a leader might be the President, Prime Minister, King, or Queen. For others, a leader could be a community or religious figurehead. Meanwhile, some might see a leader as being the CEO or Founder of a major company. Whatever comes to mind when you picture a leader, the one thing that unifies all of the aforementioned examples is their ability to lead and set examples of how government, communities, or corporations are run.

Throughout this article, we will break down what is a data leader and why having one is such an invaluable asset to your business. In addition, we will also highlight the characteristics of data leaders, as well as showcasing five essential steps to becoming a data leader yourself.

What is a data leader, and why are they important?

To define what a data leader is, we must first understand the term ‘data value’. As the name suggests, data value refers to the value of gathered data and, in particular, the understanding of the value that said data has to your business. For example, if your business values (relies) on generating profit and revenue, the data that will be most valuable to your company will lean towards anything that promotes profit and revenue. 

Having a firm understanding of data value is a vital part of data leadership as if you’re unable to truly assess and understand the value of your data, you can’t be expected to showcase data leadership and, in turn, become a data leader. 

A data leader is best described as a data-literate and highly competent person that uses data to lead by example. In practice, this would typically be the Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Data Officer (CDO), who would be responsible for creating analytics and reporting on marketing trends and the overall performance of the company’s data projects.

Data leaders are immensely important for any business as not only can they help use data analysis solutions like Astrato to overcome hurdles posed by data skeptics, but they can also improve the overall data literacy and efficiency of your organization.

As highlighted by the Data Science consulting company Aryng: “A data-driven leader needs to create a precedent. They need to lead by example, championing the nuances of data literacy before leading others”


Characteristics of data leaders 

A data leader is defined by their ability to comprehend, obtain and interpret data. Ultimately, data leaders will use their knowledge of data to enhance their company’s fortunes. Typically this might be in the form of creating more accurate and streamlined reports. However, depending on the character, personality, and skill set, their position as a leader often far extends the typical roles associated with a data analyst or manager. 

A visionary data-driven leader will be able to cast their eye on all aspects of the business, highlighting where, why, and how the business can improve and generate more revenue while using data to substantiate their claims.

Three of the key characteristics of data leaders are as follows:

Business Expert

A data leader is considered to be a business expert as they must understand their business and the overall industry sector extremely well. A great data leader can comprehend where and how the company can create value.


The second characteristic a data leader must possess is innovation. The data leader must be able to see beyond the data and analyze the business as a whole. An innovative data leader can see where potential opportunities lie and identify avenues on how they can then drive value back to the business.

Network Builder
No matter how good a data leader is, they cannot do everything alone. A genuine data-driven leader understands this and in turn, builds a network of relationships with key internal and external personnel to ensure that they can complete their tasks sufficiently.

Five Steps to becoming a data leader 

Now that you know what a data leader is and the role’s characteristics, how exactly do you become one? We’ve outlined five key steps to becoming a successful data-driven leader in your organization.

Step 1: Challenge your beliefs
Whether you’ve just joined a company or have already been part of the fabric for years, the chances are that you’ll already have an ingrained belief about your way of working as well as the organization. However, in order to become a data leader, you need to challenge these beliefs to ensure that they are relevant to the current situation/climate and that they aren’t proving to be detrimental or a hindrance to progress.

Step 2: Critique your data

Similar to the idea of challenging your beliefs, part of being a true data leader is the ability to cast a critical eye on your data and ask if the data you’re seeing is in fact the complete picture. 

When critically analyzing your data you should be able to identify where the data came from, how it was collected and also how it was analyzed. Depending on what your organization is intending to do with the gathered data, critically analyzing and verifying data could prevent your company from making costly errors of judgment.

Step 3: Build relationships

Building strong relationships within your organization is absolutely essential for any aspiring data leader. As explained in our characteristics outline, building a network of relationships within your organization is the key to getting everyone on the same page and moving the business forward in a positive direction. 

Step 4: Foster a data-driven culture 

Going hand in hand with building relationships, one of the biggest steps to becoming a data leader is through the fostering of a data-driven culture. 

Creating a culture where data rules rather than hierarchy is essential to the success of any aspiring data leader as it gives you the power to push for change within your organization, without the fear of being shut down by those in more senior leadership positions. 

A data-driven culture can only exist when a data leader has built strong relationships with their data team and the wider organization as a whole. 

Step 5: Have vision

Our final step is perhaps the most important of them all. Unlike previous steps, which suggested that you only handle one or two tasks, our final step requires you to have vision, purpose, and foresight, with a great amount of innovation as well… If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is a lot. 

Becoming a genuine data-driven leader is no easy task. To be considered a data-driven leader you must harness all of the above steps, then combine those with the foresight of a clairvoyant and the innovative streak that would make even the late Steve Jobs take notice!

OK, perhaps that is a slight exaggeration, but you get the point – to become a data-driven leader, you must have a myriad of skills as well as having both innovation and the vision to predict market trends before they occur.

Confident data-led decision making, powered by Astrato

Behind every calculated and assured data leader is the analysis software that makes it all possible. While using a data analytics solution does not automatically make you a data leader, it can help you to foster key characteristics that are essential to your development as a data analysis professional. 

So what are you waiting for? Try Astrato today and discover how our industry leading cloud-based analytics solutions can help you to discover the data leader hidden within. Click here to book a demo & learn more!