Brian Smith Ph.D. and Mary Smith recently released their new book, Individual Advantages: Be the I in Team, walking a fine line of interesting irony. The work is all about a necessary selflessness that goes with leadership in the modern workplace formula, yet the book’s focal point is entirely on the reader.


There’s a symbiotic relationship both Smiths state between one’s own self-possession on a personal and professional level, and one’s ability to be a leader in both vicinities. Everything, they state, is a two-way street, and in essence shares said symbiotic relationship on both an internal and external set of levels. The ability to give and receive feedback about an endeavor that is more than just the sum of one’s literal parts isn’t just crucial, it’s part of the wheel keeping the enterprise turning. Both in terms of reaching new heights, and with continuing to solidify its past achievements. “Leaders who are confident and consistent with their standards, policies, and procedures can help their teams stay focused by being a ‘broken record’,” Smith and Smith write in this vein. “To repeat yourself over and over may seem silly to some, but when you give the same answer to the same or similar questions, you are being consistent. You may have to adapt your delivery, for instance, if you are being asked the same question over and over because your team doesn’t understand the answer. When your team understands your answer, the team will be led towards a more positive and consistent environment.”

They articulate specifically the personal cruxes in one’s life ensuring this standard, writing, “There needs to be balance (in life). Personal, work, friend, family, and other areas should be in balance for us to have a positive influential life. Without some form of balance, you cannot be a positive “I” in team. Without balance, it is very difficult to have consistency. Work/life balance is one of those buzz phrases that is thrown around casually all the time, often by people who really don’t understand what it means, because it is so subjective to each of us.”

By highlighting how simple the origins of good leadership really are, Smith and Smith raise their book from being a guide to an exclusionary audience to something invigorating and powerful for anyone picking up a copy. Even if the technical aspects of what they’re advocating for don’t resonate with the immediacies of a hypothetical reader’s life, the attitudes and tenets promoted are fundamentally universal.


There’s no longer a sense one has to wear a different set of faces dependent upon the immediate vicinity they find themselves in. A strong, well-formed personality can flourish anywhere – whether in the board room, the home, or the work event. All it requires is a certain amount of self-awareness, conscientiousness, and pragmatism. Combine all three into a model that works for your individual profile, Smith and Smith state, and you’ve got yourself a lethally effective combination.

Kendall Townsend