Leadership teams are no strangers to changes and challenges related to successfully executing strategic objectives. Add in a global pandemic, an almost entirely remote workforce, and challenges tend to multiply. So how can organizations keep engagement levels high while creating alignment with one another over leading priorities?
The key is alignment from within the very body that determines the organization’s direction, the executive team. Sure, many of you are reading that last line, rolling your eyes and sighing, “no kidding.” And sure, it sounds primary and elementary. So was legendary basketball coach John Wooden’s request that his UCLA basketball teams “practice” putting their socks on during the season’s first practice. His reasoning? If you don’t put your socks on correctly, you might develop blisters, which will negatively impact the team.
Back to the leadership teams, trust me. If it were that simple, literally every organization would be operating with high employee engagement levels, maximum efficiency, and profitability that would keep every shareholder and stakeholder ecstatic. A quick glance of the business landscape tells us this is most certainly not the case. So, how can you create this alignment? Through a series of powerful, authentic, robust, and transparent conversations.
The first step in this process is to take a long look at how you arrived at where you currently are. What were the key conversations that took place, and with whom? What were the key decisions you made and didn’t make that helped form your current reality?
Take a close look; where were we, the leadership team, in alignment? Where were we a little bit off and, what was the impact of us not all being on the same page? How did this misalignment affect our communication, our execution? How did this impact the people working with and for us? How did it impact our customers? How can we benefit from that great gift of hindsight to lay the foundation of how we will communicate and align with each other moving forward?
Speaking of moving forward, after aligning on the strategy that you want to execute, who are those key people who will be responsible for putting that strategy into action, and how will you communicate with them to ensure this alignment stays intact? Hearing a consistent message is one thing. Feeling that message is another thing altogether. Endless research shows the difference between “hearing” strategy – this is where we are going and how we will get there – and “feeling” strategy – here is why we are moving in this direction and how what you do is key to all of us succeeding. In other words, to ensure high levels of alignment, engagement, and productivity, the organization, the people who will be doing the work to get us to where we need to be, requires the same level of clarity that the executive team has.
Admittedly, this is nothing new. Countless executive teams struggle with this in the best of times, to say nothing of the complicated world that we’re currently operating in. To offset the economic impact of a global pandemic, much of the focus has been on speed and agility. Yet, the best-laid plans will almost always fall victim to misalignment and a poor understanding of why we are moving in this direction. So, to the executive teams who are reading this, take the time to put your socks on properly. You just might be surprised at how much more effective your organization can be as a result.