Ep. 141: Anders Liu-Lindberg - INFLUENCING as a Business Partner

Anders Liu-Lindberg, Partner, COO and CMO of the Business Partnering Institute, joins Count Me In again to share more of his insights into business partnering. In episode 45 of our series, Anders covered exactly what business partnering entails, how to get more time as a business partner, and the development process for ultimately creating an impact for your organization - insights x influence. This time around, Anders specifically discusses the key components of INFLUENCE and explains how finance and accounting professionals can increase their influence with finance leaders. For step-by-step instructions on how to gain influence and hear how it ultimately leads to impact, download and listen to this episode now!

Welcome back to count me in IMA's
podcast about all things affecting the

accounting and finance world.
I'm your host, Adam Larson.

And this is episode 141 of our
series. For today's conversation,

we welcome back Anders Liu-Linberg.

Anders is an advisor to senior finance
and FP&A leaders on how to succeed with

business partnering. He is a partner,

the chief operating officer and the
chief marketing officer for the business

partnering Institute.

Back in episode 45 of count me in Anders
talked about how insight time influence

equals impact when it comes to
business partnering. In this episode,

he focuses on the influence piece of
that equation and shares how business

professionals can increase their
influence across the organization.

Keep listening to hear more about
business partnering and contributing to

overall impact.

So first Anders, thank you for joining
us again in our first podcast episode,

I know we really talked about,

business partnering at a little
bit of a higher level. You know,

you gave us your definition of
insights, times influence equals impact,

and we really appreciated all
that information you shared.

So we wanted to bring you back
and for today's conversation,

we really want to dive into the
influence piece of that equation and how,

developing influence leads to more
effective business partnering.

So to start off our conversation,
you know, as far as influence goes,

what is the first step? You know,

what does it take to be an
influential business leader?

So if you're a finance professional
today and you want to influence

business leaders,

I guess the first simple step
that you need to take is to

identify who are those business
leaders that you're most likely to be

supporting, because that are always
clear to people, right? So who is,

who's my stakeholder,

who is this person or these few people
that I need to influence? I think that's,

that's really step number one. And
then step number two, once you have

intensified them is really to reach
out to them and say, Hey, you know,

I used to work in accounting and finance,

and now when I get closer to
the business and, you know,

help you drive your agenda,

can we have a talk about what you're
doing and how it can maybe help, right?

So then you can have the first
conversation and of course,

then you build on it from there, but at
two steps, identify and engage and then,

you know, we can get it
into the more details.

And then the business
leaders that you work with,

they're not always just interested
in data and reports, right?

There's a little bit more
of a relationship, I think
that has to be built,

especially when we talk about business
partnering. So as far as influence,

how can I become part of the team?

Yeah. So, so key for someone to send
to you is obviously that they trust you

and in any kind of human
relation, you know,

we want to get to know people before
we start to trust in them, of course,

from a finance and accounting perspective,

we come often with the numbers
and with the data and, you know,

the foundation is that they
can trust those, right?

If our accounting is not working so well
and the numbers keep changing, I mean,

we need to fix that foundation first
because otherwise there's not going to be

any trust.

The second bit is then to develop
the interpersonal trust and build the

relationship that can best too,

by spending as much time as
possible with your stakeholders.

So today many finance teams, you know,

they sit on their own floor in the
building and they sit together and they do

finance stuff. But if you want to build
relationships with business leaders,

you got to get out from that cubicle
and move your desk and your chair

down to those people you want
to support and sit with them,

if not for a full week, then at
least three to four days a week.

And then maybe you can one day finance
because that's the best way to build

trust, to be around them, you know,

have the coffee side chat and all those
small info and sometimes follow up

is that we need to do, because
that's how you get to know people.

And if you don't know people, they
probably don't trust you either.

That's a great point.

And it is a lot of times I feel some of
those more casual conversations as well,

where you kind of learn about each other.

So putting yourself out there and
kind of forcing that opportunity,

I think is a great recommendation,
kind of building on this, you know,

a little bit more, as far as the steps,
is there a proven structure, you know,

that could help me to really start
influencing these business leaders and the

decision-making, you know,
beyond the relationships.

Now let's get back into
the business a little bit.

Yeah. So we generally have like a
three-step process you could follow.

The first step is what we already talked
about is to identify your stakeholders

or the business leaders that you
want to support. And then do a small,

let's say a desktop, a
biography of analysis and say,

how strong is my current
relationship with these stakeholders?

How much influence do they
have in decision making?

And what are the currently thinking about,
right? Because then you sort of know,

you know,

that the important ones
where the relationship is
maybe not so strong and then

maybe they don't have such
a good impression of you.

That's where you need to start to
identify the person and say, Hey,

I want to sit down, have
a lunch or talk with you.

So at that talk with our coffee or
lunch, or virtual, whatever it might be,

you sit down and talk about three things,

introduce yourselves if you haven't
done that already talk about how their

business is going and then, you know,

get an idea about what do they
think about finances right now,

because that tells you one of their
priorities and what do they think if you.

Then you had, when you've had that
talk would be half an hour, an hour,

it doesn't have to be long. Then
you go back to them and say,

thanks for having that chat with
me. Now, I know more about your,

let's say your top three priorities.
Now I want to try to help you. So,

can we discuss how it
can be a part of that?

And so maybe they have some priorities.

Some are maybe very far out in terms
of this transformation or some very

customer centric things,

but some of it could be very relevant
also to finance and accounting to get

involved in. So you might pick
one of that top roads and say,

I'm going to spend some time analyzing
the numbers and figuring out,

you know,

what could be some good insights that can
help you make better decisions in this

area. So you spend the time, you
know, then you sit behind the desk,

you do analysis. Maybe we still have
to work with data reports and analysis,

just not as much as we do today
to generate those insights.

And once you have looked at it and
probably have talked to some of the team

members and that the business leaders
team and develops a business context

around it, you put it on the meeting
with the stakeholder, at the meeting,

you present your insights and say,

here's what I've learned about
your situation, your priority.

And maybe you even come with some
suggestions of how you can move forward,

but then you discuss the insights,

you discuss some actions and
then you take action, right?

That's how you really get involved in
the decision-making of these senior

business leaders. They want you there,

you got to bring the
right things to the table.

And so again, I just want to kind
of recap the equation, if you will,

that you put out there, insights,
times influence equals impact.

And I know you were just talking about
insights, so tying it all together,

a lot of times, as you said, finance
professionals have the insights, right?

They have the numbers, they have the data,

and we're talking today about
developing that influence.

So even as you follow
this proven structure,

these three steps that you
just summarized for us,

I think it's pretty often that you'll
see the decisions that are made from your

insights are often relayed
to you after the fact, right?

So a lot of people interested in
business partnering, you know,

that end piece of the
equation, making an impact.

They want to get ahead of the curve.
They want to be a part of the decisions.

So how do I get ahead of that
curve and how do I become,

somebody who can be consulted for
these decisions moving forward?

So I think, I think it's
important to state that, you know,

Rome wasn't built in a day.

So just because you start to come with
some great insights, they might say,

thank you might have
a discussion with you,

but there's decisions might still be made
behind closed doors with other senior

stakeholders,

but what's high as you consistently
show up with great insights.

And you're a great discussion
partner and the insights you

give these great decisions that
leads to great financial outcomes.

At the end of the day,
the business leaders,

they will pull you in
more and more. Suddenly,

you're not just part of operational
discussions where the budget once

a year, suddenly you are in part
of the strategic discussion to say,

what are we going to do in
three to five years from now?

What do you think business partner
and the gold standard of course would

be that no business leader would make any
important decisions without consulting

you the business partner
first. But to be honest,

I think few people have arrived
at this, this stage here.

But that's the gold standard you
can even go further than, but let's,

let's say that for another conversation.

Okay. That's great. We're again,

trying to go full circle here with this
conversation and business partnering is

such an important topic. It
has been for a long time,

but it's really top of mind for
many finance individuals today.

So let's just say I'm often involved in
these business leaders decisions. Now,

you know, once the decision is made,
maybe I don't get the progress,

the results, right? The what happens
afterwards, then what's really my role.

How do I continue to maintain and
be a part of that conversation?

I think that that's a great point, right?

Because we often talk about business
partner as a means to making better

decisions in the company.

But we also know that just
because the decision is made,

it doesn't mean that action
or the right action is taken,

or it could even be the
right action is taken,

but it doesn't lead to the
desired outcome. Right?

So the execution part of it while the
business partner is not out there moving

the nuts and bolts of things
that needs to be done,

he or she can follow up on these things,

be the catalyst that ensures action is
taken. And then once action is taken,

you follow up on the results, did
we achieve what we wanted? If yes,

maybe you can push for more, but if, no,

you should be part of the conversation
to figure out why maybe you would do that

independently and come with new
suggestions for what to do instead. Right?

So business partnering is an end to
end activity, starting with, you know,

getting hold of the data and the numbers,

true to making the decision and going
through the whole execution and feedback

loop where, you know, so it's, it's a
circuit and I think that's very important.

It doesn't stop once the
decision is made, right.

You have to be part of the whole thing.

So I do want to ask one more
question if that's okay,

and we can maybe use this as a preview
for the next conversation, like you said,

but, the end result being impact,
right? So if we develop this insight,

we follow this full circle
of the full feedback loop.

And after a decision is made finances,
such an evolving function right now,

what does impact really look like?

And what should a business partner really
kind of be focused on when it comes to

analyzing the results of the
decisions that have been made?

Yeah, so I think, you know,

if we talk about the outcomes that we
want to create business partners, or,

you know,

the fan is functioning in general
and how we want to measure ourselves.

And we firmly believe there are three
things to look at. The first is,

are we as a business achieving
the goals that we want, you know,

could be a relational, tactical, strategic
goal, and, you know, you name it,

but how are we reaching our meeting of
beating those goals? That is number one,

because we were failing business,
we also failing in finance.

We cannot succeed in finance by
improving a process or, you know,

making a nicer tool or
something like that.

We can only succeed if the business
succeeds. So that's, that's number one.

Number two is then are you part of it?

Are you part of the success and a good
measure to look at there is customer

feedback or stakeholder feedback.

So as a finance function or an individual
with multiple stakeholders do you

actually ask for feedback, am I
part of creating these results here

or am I just the person
that comes to the report,

because obviously those are two
different things. And, you know,

by all means it could be that
the stakeholder says, yeah,

you're a great support, I love the
report, and I can really use it for a lot,

but then you're still
just doing the report.

That's probably half the third step.

The third step is to sort of document
what have you been doing to help create

this impact? And we use a
simple formula there called SCRI

most the situation pose the challenge
we face as a business that we needed to

overcome. What resolution did we
come up with and what was the impact?

So you sort of,

as a finance professional to try to
have not a few of these impact stories

documented throughout the year.
So at the end of it, you know,

finance get some power
for ourself and say,

we have these 35 fantastic impact
stories that we were part of

to help the business succeed. And boy,
did we have a good year this year? Right?

So we were also part of the success
finance, but those are the three things,

you know, how we
succeeded in the business,

how are we getting good customer feedback?

And can we actually document
and articulate what our
role was in that success?

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