If you\u2019ve worked in the IT industry for any length of time, the idea that IT \u2018does what it is told\u2019 won\u2019t come as a huge surprise. It\u2019s a way of life in many organizations.\nThere is an imbalance in the relationship between the IT organization and its business partners \u2013 the internal or external departments and individuals that use its services. Sadly, IT is not regularly seen as an \u2018equal\u2019, but rather a subservient service provider that basically takes orders. Like a commodity salesman visiting grocery shops, IT is only able to respond to demands for more, newer, faster, cheaper, bigger and better systems.\u00a0\nIT staffers have no real influence on trends, opportunities, and potential areas where technology could actually deliver more value. Instead, IT is simply expected to respond rather than contribute; act, rather than advise.\u00a0\nIs it just me? Or is this notion \u2013 this lack of credibility \u2013 archaic?\nTimes They are a Changin\nIt really is archaic, and it\u2019s changing\u2026 slowly but surely. Many enlightened organizations realize the value of a partnership with IT, beyond just executing contractual obligation. But there are many organizations have a ways to go when it comes to improving the strategic standing of technology and IT.\nOne of the big problems is the traditional image of IT and IT workers, which doesn\u2019t always help when arguing for a bigger and more strategic seat at the table. In fact, many people who work in technology still don\u2019t demonstrate enough of the \u2018professional\u2019 and \u2018soft\u2019 skills that are needed to carry out mature relationships.\nAs examples, there are many instances in which technology-focused staff forget that they are dealing with \u2018people\u2019. And that those living, breathing people need appropriate levels of interaction, communication and engagement.\nThe DON\u2019Ts for IT Staffers Looking to Up Their Cred\nI\u2019m sure we all recognize these types of scenarios that landed us with the title of \u2018doers\u2019 not \u2018thinkers\u2019. So \u201cdon\u2019t\u2019 make these mistakes:\n\nThe IT guy who doesn\u2019t listen, going into solution mode before you\u2019ve even described your problem\n\u00a0The support person who works on your computer, then tells you it\u2019s fixed but doesn\u2019t wait for you to check and confirm\nThe project team who tells you what you need without having asked you about your requirements and challenges\nThe project analyst who simply says \u2018no, our tool can\u2019t do that\u2019 without trying to find common ground or another approach \u2013 the binary response\n\nI\u2019m sure many of these situations are recognizable \u2013 as are many more. The IT industry still has a tendency to fall short when it comes to understanding the people, business and how to work together productively.\nNew Image, New Partnership\nSo, what can we do to improve our image and become trusted business \u2018partners\u2019?\nIn short, we need to clarify our role. We support people and businesses, not just technology. We use technology, of course. And, yes, the focus of our expertise is technology. But this skill is of no value if we can\u2019t also communicate and collaborate successfully with other people\u2014especially the people that need it.\nIn reality, we need to call out a wider set of skills as part of the IT job. There is no use in being a technical genius if you can\u2019t exchange key information with other human beings. We should recognize these \u2018soft\u2019 skills \u2013 communications, business knowledge, influencing skills, management and motivational skills, emotional intelligence \u2013 as part of our job descriptions, role and competency requirements. And those soft skills must be with equable levels of importance to technical skills. It\u2019s a clich\u00e9, but really \u2018soft\u2019 skills are the \u2018hard\u2019 part of our jobs.\nThe DO\u2019s to Take You from Good to Great\nWhat things make a great Service Professional? It\u2019s the softer skills that turn the tables from good to great. So try doing these:\n\nMaintaining customer focus \u2013 above our own technical areas of interest\nHoning great communications skills \u2013 active listening, appropriate language and tone, summary writing skills\nDemonstrating market skills and knowledge \u2013 knowing your market and your customers\u2019 place in it\nUnderstanding and managing risk \u2013 taking personal responsibility\nDemonstrating positive and resourceful behaviors \u2013 not just following \u2018process\u2019\nBeing able to prioritize work in line with business and customer needs\nWorking and collaborating with \u2013 even influencing \u2013 different types of people\nFocusing on results and outcomes rather than activities and work volume\n\nIt\u2019s essential that we recognize and develop our skills in these areas of \u2018professionalism\u2019. After all, it will be these skills (mostly) that distinguish us from the robots that are going to take all our jobs, right?\nNot everyone possess these skills as natural capabilities, but all of us must appreciate the importance and work to improve own levels of \u2018soft\u2019 competence.\nOnly once we do this and start demonstrating improved levels of engagement and success with our customers can we really expect to be seen as true \u2018strategic partners\u2019.\nFor more information, please visit here.