Be a translator. Put the business in the center of your thinking and conversations, and translate everything you say into their vernacular. If you always talk to the CEO only about your function, you will not be building credibility and relevance. If you are only ever advocating about your plans, your budget, your functional objectives, you are not being relevant to the business. You are being relevant only to your function.
Your conversations and your vocabulary should be centered on business initiatives like quality improvement, customer loyalty, geographic expansion, channel optimization, etc. Even if what you are really talking about is needing more servers, more database contractors, or a software maintenance upgrade keep those terms within IT and translate your language to the vocabulary of business initiatives.
Be the voice from outside the company. You must keep educating yourself, watching for examples of how others do things, and learning from customers and peers. Bringing the external voice of the real world back into your business sets you up as highly relevant. But make sure there is a point to it. It’s not just about sounding smart. It’s about bringing high value, real world input into the business that causes positive action, so connect it with what the business cares about before you talk about it.
Deliver your work and more. Deliver excellent results but don’t expect that alone to make you relevant. Doing your job keeps you from getting fired. What makes you stand out, and makes you highly relevant is finding additional ways to add value to the business over and above what is in your job description. Otherwise, you are just one more person doing what is expected of them.
Today Patty is the CEO of Azzarello Group, a unique services organization that helps companies develop and motivate their top performers, execute their strategies, and grow their business, through talent management programs, leadership workshops, online products & public speaking.