Total Alignment Blog

The Art of Alignment – 5 Lessons for Leaders

As leaders know, success is achieved when people are aligned behind their vision and working together focused on the same goal. But how do you accomplish this?

Here are five ideas that may be helpful for a leader seeking to achieve alignment in his or her organization:

1. Align Yourself

This sounds easy – but what does it mean? Are your thoughts and actions in line with the values and mission of your organization? It is difficult if not impossible to be effective as a leader if there is a fundamental conflict between your thinking and the organization’s mission. It is important to first align yourself with the core values and mission of your organization. If you find that you can’t – maybe its time to find a new job.

2. Communicate

The purpose, vision and strategy of the organization are normally developed with the participation and involvement of the top levels of the organization. It is not realistic to involve every employee. Those who have played a part in the process will understand and agree. It is more difficult for the others. In fact, according to Forbes Magazine, only 5% of the employees in organization understand the vision and strategy of the business.

By increasing this percentage through clear communication you will greatly improve your chances of aligning the workforce. Find a way to measure the level of understanding and acceptance of the vision. If it is low, come up with ways to improve.

The more people understand your shared purpose, the greater will be their alignment.

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3. Define Roles

One of the characteristics of an aligned organization is the clear definition of the roles for everyone – not just the job description, but more importantly, how the job supports the strategy of the organization. When each person has a clear understanding of the value they are adding to carrying out the goals of the organization, they will be more aligned. Going through the exercise of identifying the key elements of each job and how it is linked to vision and strategy not only clarifies what people should be focusing on, but also increases the commitment to the job and the desire for alignment.

4. Reward Alignment

In many companies, the compensation scheme is based on seniority or other factors rather than on performance aligned with vision and strategy. It’s important that you don’t send mixed messages, asking people to be aligned, but compensating them for behaviors that are not aligned. If people are not being rewarded for their alignment with the strategy of the organization, what is their incentive? Those who are great performers need to be recognized and rewarded; and those who are not should not receive disproportionate bonuses or move up in the corporate ladder. If you are serious about creating an aligned organization, your compensation and bonus system need to also be aligned.

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5. Remember your customers

It’s important not to forget your customers as you are pursuing alignment. Aligning your organization with the needs of the customer base is vital. How can you be more aligned with the needs of your customers? First by becoming fully cognizant of those needs – understanding what your customers are interested in buying and why. Second, by developing a culture of caring about your customers. Customers are the reason you are in business.

Although these five ideas for leaders may seem simple, they are powerful and transforming when carried out. Pay attention to these five lessons and your organization will become more aligned behind your leadership and more able to attract and retain customers.

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