How You Can Become an Influencer

As IMA’s President and CEO, I take pride in the organization’s global recognition as a leader in the accounting and finance profession. I believe that to be successful in business, you must be an inspiring leader and set a positive example for others in your business and industry – to be an influencer. Influencing others takes many shapes, and it is an attribute not just reserved for the “top person.” Here are a few tips to stand out as an influencer:

Know the Subject Matterpendulum
One way to become an influencer is to be credible, to be technically competent, and to be a master at whatever you do. That means keeping up with the latest trends and sharing knowledge with the people around you. To signal this competence, consider earning a certification, like the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant). Certified professionals have earned a mark of distinction and are trusted business advisors within their businesses. They also set the standard for others around them and are always working on continuous improvement – in their careers, businesses, and personal lives.

Commit to On-Going Learning and Growth
Being an influencer also means you are committed to continuous learning and growth, including on-going continuing education requirements as part of the commitment to your certification. This enhances your credibility as an influencer because it shows you are committed to not only staying current but also staying ahead, enabling you to provide relevant and, hopefully inspiring, advice.

Become a Mentor
Mentoring is another way you can influence others – whether you’re advising your peers, young professionals just starting their careers, or students via a college campus group (such as IMA’s network of student chapters or mentoring program). Sharing your knowledge with and guiding others is a great way to build your influence to nurture and develop great leaders of the future.

Listen Carefully
As a leader in your business, you must ensure you listen carefully and empathetically to your employees and peers. A good influencer doesn’t just hear what people say but listens to their advice and guidance in order to lead better. Influencing, much like mentoring, is a two-way street with mutual learning and growth for both parties. Be open to being an inspiring influencer and even an inspired “influencee” (yes, a new word!).

Engage imask2n Fierce Conversations
You will enhance your credibility and value as an influencer if you commit to a culture of challenge and engage in fierce conversations – avoiding artificial harmony at one extreme or personal attacks at the other, but rather embracing honest, genuine, and head-on conversations to solve issues. (Read Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott – this is one of my favorite books and has taught me a lot!)

Be an Influencer
IMA has set the tone in our industry by releasing timely research via the IMA Research Foundation, thought-provoking magazine articles via Strategic Finance and Management Accounting Quarterly, and educational webinars and courses to supplement CPE requirements for certified professionals. I will continuously work toward making IMA a strong influencer around the world to enrich careers, organizations, and the public interest.

Share your stories of how you’ve influenced others in the comments below.

Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson

Related Articles

“Jeff Thomson Named Among Accounting Today’s ‘Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting’” – IMA Online News

“How India Influenced Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg” – The Wall Street Journal, India

Volunteer Leadership – What’s In It For You?

In professional associations, many Puzzle on white background. Isolated 3D imageleadership opportunities exist for volunteers. It is this powerful relationship between the association and its volunteer members that help organizations deliver their mission.

Throughout my career, I’ve had numerous leadership opportunities including my current role as IMA’s director of market advocacy. I have the pleasure to serve as a staff liaison to IMA’s three technical committees to ensure that these groups represent the interests of accounting and finance professionals everywhere.

Aside from the intangible benefits that volunteerism brings, such as a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, and giving back, I see three tangible benefits that our volunteer leaders gain through their roles.

Making Connections

As I’ve observed from the volunteers I work with, participating on a committee can expose you to a variety of people with a common interest. volunterer_leadership-QuoteProfessional associations offer access to boards, committees, subcommittees, and ad-hoc groups—a plethora of opportunities for volunteers to broaden their networks and commit to a shared common goal. In my role, I get to strengthen my existing relationships with members, as well as meet people in my field with a multitude of perspectives from around the globe. Networking is important to everyone, regardless of your career level. Business contacts and even personal friendships can stem from volunteer positions.


Advancing Your Skill Set and Your Career

Volunteer roles help you gain experience in a particular area of interest, practice relevant skills in a safe environment, and learn what it takes to be an effective leader to aid in the progression of your career path. Going outside of your normal day-to-day job is a differentiator that also adds skills to your résumé. Volunteer roles can help you gain experience you may not otherwise be able to get.

Yet, as important as it is to step up and be a leader, it’s also important to step back, share your knowledge with others, and allow them to step up. The most valuable experience I’ve gained as a leader is learning to facilitate successful outcomes without controlling the process. True leaders assist in the process of grooming someone else to lead a task. Being a strategic thinker and creating opportunities for others is also a rewarding experience, as you watch others grow from your guidance.

Impacting a Cause

At IMA, our volunteers serve as a voice, not only within a group, but on behalf of the profession as a whole. Advocating for a cause enhances technical knowledge while helping the greater good. At IMA, our volunteers are passionate about serving the interests of small businesses, promoting sound financial reporting standards, and educating the business community about important issues that impact them in some way.

If you have an opportunity to take on a leadership role, go for it. These valuable experiences will help you expand your knowledge, create lasting personal and professional relationships, and make a powerful difference in the community.

Have you had an interesting volunteer experience? Did it exceed your expectations?

Written by Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA

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