If there is a vote for buzzword of the current decade, my candidate will be “alignment”, “leadership alignment” to be more precise. That’s not to denigrate the term. Leadership alignment for business has high value and it’s often hard to achieve. There is great power in having an executive team that is locked in and working together on their priorities, decisions, and measures of success. I just hear it so often used to describe a desired state among leadership teams, that it has lost meaning. In the same way “empowerment” did in the 90’s.
As you think about your team to determine if you are aligned, rowing in the same direction, and generally on the same page, here are three things to consider:
1. Are you clear about the objective(s) you want to get alignment on? As the executive, you need to be able to state your objective in a sentence or two. Run-on sentences are fine as long as someone on the front lines of your business would understand what you are talking about. After all, you’ll need those front line staff to execute on any plans to achieve your objective.
2. Do the members of your team share the same view of your objective and definition of success? It is easier said than done, I know, but this is at the heart of leadership alignment. A shared understanding of what needs to be achieved, along with accountability for the results, is what drives your business.
3. Can you spot where you are out of alignment? If you are successful with the first two points, then you ought to be able to identify activities, actions, decisions, and behaviors that run counter to your goals. This enables you to be vigilant about course corrections.
Like most things in business, the idea is simple, but not easy to do. But it’s worth it. It’s about directing the power of your leadership team, and ultimately the entire organization, toward the highest impact work to be done. Done well, you’ll increase productivity, eliminate failure work, and reduce wasted effort and energy. I wrote about this in greater detail for the Tampa Bay Business Journal in my article, “The power of alignment brings common ground to team goals.” Think about where your team could use a little alignment work and what kind of value it may have.
A Slice of Life Balance
It’s the midpoint of 2016 and you’ll inevitably hear multiple people wistfully say something like, “can you believe how fast it’s gone?” Well, yes, I can. In fact, I’d be surprised if it didn’t go by so fast. Most of us do everything in our power to do things even faster. The irony is that it often has the opposite effect of what we desire, and before you know it, the first half of the year is a blur. I’m a big believer in the value of productivity and speed. However, a little slower pace here and there may help you feel less likely that the second half of the year will speed past. I’m not advocating the kind of slower pace you see hilariously depicted here (from my daughter’s favorite movie Zootopia), but I do think we all have room to decelerate here and there. Doing so can reduce that blur that distorts our sense of time.
How about making at least a few moments in July go a little slower? Not just during a vacation, though it’s a good place to start. Perhaps you’ll take a slower pace in having lunch, reading, taking a walk, a conversation, or whatever else you choose. See if even for a moment that it didn’t go by so fast.
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