Brian Smith is founder and senior managing partner of IA Business Advisors, a management consulting firm that has worked with more than 20,000 CEOs, entrepreneurs, managers and employees worldwide. Together with his daughter, Mary Griffin, he has authored his latest book in the “I” in Team series, “Positive Influence – Be the “I” in Team“, which shares how to become our best self with everyone we influence.
Smith recently shared insights on how to become aware of and use our positive influence.
Describe your professional background and how it led you to create IA Business Advisors.
My professional background had its own foundation; first, I was a soldier. That season of my life laid the foundation for an understanding about structure, policy, procedure, and teamwork. Growing up, I had always wanted to be an accountant and becoming a soldier actually fit well with that dream when I began working with numbers.
This path led me to succeed in the work that makes up my professional background. In the beginning, I implemented accounting and ERP systems and later dealt with change in the workplace as technology began to influence humans in both positive and negative ways.
Through my work in implementing systems, I became aware of how to resolve conflict between humans, technology, policy, and procedure, which has allowed me to be an amazing advisor for all the issues our clients bring.
Why is it important to define our individual influence?
First, it is our single greatest responsibility. Each of us began influencing the world before we were even born; the moment our parents learned of our conception, we influenced their lives and others. Our influence continues and grows through our thoughts, words, and actions. Our influence is one true constant we can count on.
When we define our influence, understand what influences us, and determine how we want to be perceived by others, it helps us become more mindful and aware of our very existence. Through this mindfulness, most will work to achieve positive thoughts, words, and actions to influence the future we’d like to make happen.
How can we better understand our individual biases and rise above them?
If you wish to better understand your biases, you will need to slow down and pay attention to your emotions and your intuition. This means you need to remain present and mindful. Additionally, you need to have situational awareness and listen to your internal dialogue to learn about yourself. You need to gain an understanding of the things you dislike or immediately challenge, and engage in an attempt to understand yourself and those feelings before you judge or react.
When you find that you harbor a bias, determine if you can locate the source of that bias — is it rooted in a memory or perhaps a cultural way of thinking? If you can’t determine where your bias stems from, it’s likely an unconscious bias and it will be more difficult to reconcile. However, if you can pinpoint a moment where your bias originated, you can gain awareness questioning more about what drove that moment and what has followed. Rising above bias is a conscious choice, but one that can only be made if you slow down and give yourself a chance to remain curious rather than judgmental.
How can anyone, no matter their professional level, constructively use their influence to improve their team?
Be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely). It’s not just a goal management program; it’s a way to influence constructively and positively at every level. When you incorporate S.M.A.R.T. into your communication, delegation, task management, and more, you inherently slow down and gain more control of your influence.
How is transparency an important part of positive influence?
Transparent communication is paramount to our influence. To understand what direction is smart, to decide what it is measurable, to determine attainability, to plan from a realistic perspective, and to know if the outcome is timely, communication from all participants needs to be transparent. Being transparent feeds the S.M.A.R.T. process and ensures that teams have what is needed to succeed. As communication is the foundation of how we interact with others, the more transparent we are, the better.
How do we maintain our influence in our ever-changing business world?
Be consistent in both words and action. Your influence is constant, while at the same time change is constant. If you must navigate change, ensure you are S.M.A.R.T. about the change. Consistent communication will allow you to maintain trust and credibility, and with them your influence will also remain consistent. When you apply S.M.A.R.T. goals to any change, you ensure that those influenced by the change have a clear understanding of it, and how it pertains to them. If you are truly implementing S.M.A.R.T., you will remain transparent in your communications and also maintain your influence.
Learn more at IABusinessAdvisors.com/the-i-in-team-series/.