Soft Skills and Traits of a Good Data Steward

Soft Skills and Traits of a Good Data Steward

StockSnap_W6PNBNYHM6-PeopleWorking-DataStewardSoftSkills_BPBeing a good data steward is not all about technical knowledge. There are several soft skills, traits, and behaviors that a good data steward should have. Every data steward will be different and will have certain strengths and weaknesses. In this blog post we thought we would mention a few that we feel are important to being a good data steward. Keep these in mind when selecting someone on your staff to be a data steward or creating a data steward training program.

Here are some soft skills, traits, and behaviors we feel are important for a data steward (in no specific order):

  • Listener – Listening and knowing the organization’s culture and how things are done at the organization is critical for a data steward. Be a good listener and an active listener.
  • Communicator – Communication between various groups and individuals is key in data governance / data intelligence so a data steward needs to be a great communicator in a variety of formats (verbal, email, etc.). Data stewards need to communicate often and well with others to maintain credibility and ensure data governance / intelligence improvement.
  • Writer – There is a lot of content related to data governance in an organization (business glossary, report specifications, technical definitions, etc.) and being a good writer is a tremendous help to a data steward. And the writing needs to follow the approved templates for the content.
  • Collaborator – A data steward needs to work well with others especially in fulfilling data requests and resolving issues.
  • Diplomacy – Knowing how to achieve data governance goals between multiple sets of stakeholders is very important for a data steward.  There is a certain diplomatic skill that is required.
  • Persuasive – A data steward needs to have the ability to persuade others regarding their request especially if it is a perception issue.
  • Project Management – A data steward needs to know how to manage a project and handle all the various data governance tasks. Being organized is also very important and knowing the project management tool being used is also key.  Being good at time management is also important.
  • Patience – A data steward needs to be prepared for the need to repeat their messages numerous times. There will be many questions, often not the smartest ones. Be patient and kind with others in your answers and response.
  • Persistence – Data governance / data intelligence takes time and is an ongoing program. A data steward needs to keep going and be persistent.
  • Practical – A data steward needs to remember the why for data governance / intelligence and the purpose (to help people and the organization).  A data steward needs to be pragmatic and practice just-in-time data governance as well as making data governance happen in the real world (not just a binder on a shelf).
  • Service Oriented – A data steward needs to love being helpful to others that have questions re: data or issues with data. Helping people is a big part of data governance / data intelligence.
  • Reliable and Accountable – A data steward needs to respond to data requests quickly, even if cannot complete right away due to other activities. They also need to attend the necessary data governance meetings and get things done on time.
  • Professional – All communications (verbal, email, written, etc.) by a data steward should be professional in nature.
  • Integrity – Often times dealing with sensitive data, the data steward must protect this information and not use it for personal reasons.
  • Conflict Management – Conflict is inevitable. A data steward needs to have the ability to handle conflict and work with others to resolve issues.
  • Change Management – A data steward must be able to handle change as data is always changing, new priorities occur, and new processes being put into place.
  • Calm – People will get excited and act like their issue is the most important in the world. A data steward must remain calm and work with the person calmly to get information and resolve the issue when necessary.
  • Cheerleader – Some people will resist change and the data steward will need to be positive and keep people enthused about data governance / data intelligence.
  • Networker – A data steward needs to have good relationships with others in the organization to resolve issues. These relationships should be formed before there is a critical issue.
  • Educator – A data steward will often have to educate others in the organization about data governance including the processes as well as about the data in the organization. Being a good trainer or teacher is an important skill to have.

We hope that this blog post is a reminder on when selecting a data steward or training a data steward that you not only think of the hard technical or knowledge skills. There are other skills and traits that a good data stewards needs to have to be successful. Check out the Data Steward Resources Blog Post for more information regarding data stewards.

IData has a solution, the Data Cookbook, that can aid the employees and the organization in its data governance, data intelligence, data stewardship and data quality initiatives. IData also has experts that can assist with data governance, reporting, integration and other technology services on an as needed basis. Feel free to contact us and let us know how we can assist.

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Jim Walery
About the Author

Jim Walery is a marketing professional who has been providing marketing services to technology companies for over 20 years and specifically those in higher education since 2010. Jim assists in getting the word out about the community via a variety of channels. Jim is knowledgeable in social media, blogging, collateral creation and website content. He is Inbound Marketing certified by HubSpot. Jim holds a B.A. from University of California, Irvine and a M.A. from Webster University. Jim can be reached at jwalery[at]

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