Organizational relevance is the final step after an organization has been aligned, integrated on all levels, and its awareness is well-known in-house and in the marketplace. When these three drivers are functioning at a high level, then it’s time to address and build an organization’s relevance in its marketplace.
Relevance is produced when an organization is aligned, integrated, and has a high degree of awareness of its goals and values. In a challenging business environment, the only true job security is to be considered relevant by customers.
Of course, Founder CEOs, Presidents, Managing Directors, and team members all want job security for themselves and their businesses. But in the final analysis, they aren’t the ones who decide who is or isn’t relevant —only customers can do that.
Today, all job security is pretty much gone because everything is based on performance— not yesterday’s success. This has happened in great part because our generation has lived through three major global disasters: 9/11, The Great Recession of 2008-2010, and now COVID-19. To stay in business and grow requires that your company is considered relevant by its customers.
This is not a football game where there is one winner and many losers. It’s not necessary to crush anyone. The key to winning is to offer something that customers need and want. There can be many winners. Any company can win if they do one thing: be relevant to their customers.
There are four barriers to becoming relevant to customers:
Barrier 1: Falling in or out of favor has never been easier than today. That’s because news travels fast, but bad news travels even faster! This is why building relevance with customers is essential.
Barrier 2: The Leadership Difference starts with leaders being authentic and true to their organization’s mission in all it says and does. Authenticity makes it easy for everyone to understand what an organization cares about and know what it stands for. The greater relevance an organization has in its customer’s eyes, the stronger position it will have in its marketplace.
Barrier 3: Not Building Competence in employees is hazardous to any organization’s health because building competence empowers everyone in the organization to be a leader in their area. Leaders building leaders can have an exponential effect on any organization. When this exists, an organization’s true relevance will be felt and communicated each day, at all organization levels.
Barrier 4: Not Loving Customers seems like a mushy feel-good message to many leaders. But the most robust businesses are those that have built deep, meaningful, long-term relationships with their customers. I learned about customer relationships from a PR veteran who had served five Chairman’s at the Chicago Board of Trade. He taught me the importance of understanding your customer’s needs well before discussing your professional services.
In today’s changing and challenging market, leaders need to say what they think and what their organization stands for, and they also have to do what they say. It’s not enough to say what you think. You have to prove it to customers through your actions. Building competence is a continuous improvement process, not a one-and-done event.