Nothing can cause mission failure faster than a lack of leadership alignment within your senior team. The problem is no company believes it can happen to them. By the time they do, serious consequences have arisen. When leadership alignment is off, it can cause a ripple effect which spreads across the entire company, causing employees to feel disconnected from the mission and a shared sense of purpose. This means employees are less likely to invest their time, talent, and energy into meeting or exceeding your organization’s goals.
Use this leadership observation checklist as a leadership alignment tool. You can use it proactively to ensure your senior team is rowing in the same direction or to reverse course and get back on track. These five steps are crucial to ensuring management alignment.
Enhance the Understanding of Your Organization’s “Why?”
Many companies — and their leaders — spend a lot of their time communicating what they do and how they do it without spending much time on why the organization exists in the first place. Try asking members of your senior team what the “why?” of your company is. Really listen to the answers: Do they tend to turn into descriptions of what they do?
This does not mean they are not good at their job or do not believe in the mission. It is, however, often a sign the mission is muddy or not being communicated and reiterated often enough or clearly enough.
Growing and protecting your organizational culture is difficult without a clearly established “why?” A great culture is designed to instill shared beliefs to drive behaviors and, ultimately, results. For this to be achieved, the culture has to be built on a clear belief statement enforced and embodied by your senior leadership team. When you lack leadership alignment, the employees receive mixed messaging and lose faith in the mission.
Set time apart — preferably off-site so you can really focus — and spend time with your senior leadership team really digging into your company’s big “why?” If you are happy with the mission as it stands, do some exercises to bring it to life for your management team. Ask them to build concrete examples of how they can bring the mission to life in their respective teams.
Develop the Culture Necessary to Support the “Why?”
Once you have defined your “why?” and aligned your leadership team around it, you must use it as the foundation for all decisions pertaining to your company’s culture. The leaders of the company have a responsibility to create experiences for their teams and the company at large to enforce these cultural beliefs. These beliefs must guide your lead team members as they make proactive decisions to achieve your company’s goals. If your mission is not clearly defined, making decisions related to culture in other areas of the company becomes almost impossible.
For example, hiring and firing decisions should all be made on the basis of your organization’s cultural beliefs. If one of your cultural tenants is the “love of learning,” you can sort through candidates for people who exhibit this trait. If a team member refuses to further their knowledge in the field, will not attend conferences, or complains about company training, you now have something to point to as an area of improvement during reviews and performance assessments.
When the “why?” is clear, you can build the culture around it. In return, the culture will support the why of your company by helping you find the right people, keeping them engaged in the mission, and accomplishing your organizational goals faster and more efficiently.
Every decision and communication from the leadership team needs to align with your culture and values.
Define What Winning Looks Like for Your Organization
What do elite athletes, great military leaders, and successful business owners have in common? They all have a crystal clear vision of what winning looks like for them. Without a clear goal, any actions you take will be unfocused at best and counterproductive at worst.
Neuroscience agrees that when you picture yourself achieving a goal, your brain will start to find ways to get you there. Once you agree on your vision and your goals, have each member of your team to picture what winning looks like. Ask them to envision it and share those visions with the team.
Ask, “What does it feel like when you walk into work?” and “What are you celebrating with your team at the end of the quarter?”
Doing this exercise can be incredibly inspiring. Seeing how each member of your team envisions success is always interesting. Allow them to play off of one another’s ideas, and watch as the excitement grows.
Accountability and Responsibility Checks on All Initiatives
Now we are going to really narrow in on the nitty-gritty of accountability and follow-through. Your vision, your mission, your envisioning exercises: All great stuff but completely useless if you leave these discussions on the table.
Big dreams so easily get lost in the weeds of your day-to-day job. If you do not create a way to enforce accountability and assign responsibility, nothing will improve. You wind up back where you started.
There are three levels to the hierarchy of achieving real results:
- Have one person “own” the outcome and be held accountable for big picture success or failure.
- Those directly underneath the owner (managers, team leads, etc.) who are assisting in the effort should be made responsible for helping drive the outcome.
- Supporting team members should be regularly informed and share information on their progress with one another.
Define what this looks like for your organization, and make sure everyone in leadership agrees. Then develop a plan for clear downward communication to the rest of the organization, so everyone knows to whom they report and can turn for information.
Set Regular Check-Ins
Once you assign responsibilities and set up accountability structures, you need to regularly check in with your leadership team to make sure you stay aligned. Over time, you will develop a rhythm of meetings and scheduled communication to ensure you don’t lose sight of your organization’s big-picture goals. Priorities shift and circumstances change — you want to be sure leadership agrees on how to handle those challenges to avoid varying directives.
Make sure your team understands these check-ins are top priority, and then maintain consistency. Make the necessary time for those who are accountable to provide progress updates and keep everyone informed.
For More Information
Using these five steps as a leadership alignment tool can help your team become (and stay!) aligned, creating the perfect foundation on which to build a successful organization.
If you have any questions about this leadership alignment tool or need help creating a team leader checklist of your own, contact iProv for a free consultation! We specialize in creating internal and external marketing strategies designed to highlight and support your company’s “why?”