One of the most difficult things to do as a leader is to ensure that your whole team is moving in the same direction at the same pace at the same time. This is not much of an issue when the team is small and if you are leading just yourself the point is moot. Moving in the other direction into larger groups and enterprises the challenge grows exponentially. This is why leadership development is such a critical need in organizational life. The only way to effectively magnify your influence and hence ensure organizational alignment is to grow other leaders who can share the burden of direction setting and shepparding toward organizational goals and objectives.
There are other things that can be done to create greater alignment however. Arguably the most important action a leader can take to ensure alignment is to communicate. I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts today www.manager-tools.com. In this weeks episode Mike and Mark the hosts of manager tools discussed communication. They stated a super critical truth that lies at the heart of all leadership communication. Communication is not the words spoken by the leader; rather it is the understanding of the listener. So speak to be understood not to hear yourself speak not to achieve an action item of fulfill an obligation.
We have talked about listening skills before here at develop a leader.com both in the seven points of leadership effectiveness and in various posts. If you have not yet gotten the seven points you can join the mailing list or buy our new soon to be released e-book which will feature an expanded analysis of the seven points.
Just remember that with communication understanding on the part of the listener is the key. To facilitate this, take a lesson from Martin Luther King who in his I have a dream speech repeated the same vision at least five different ways to make his point come to life in his audiences mind.
Another action a leader can take to create alignment is through organizational culture and environment. By creating a trust based culture where teams feel comfortable challenging the direction of the organization then willingly fall in line once the decision is made, alignment is strengthened. Not that it is easy to create a trust based culture nor is it easy to ensure people fall in line at the appropriate time. Both are absolutely achievable however and relate to two points made in our seven point series. Trust in part comes from integrity and the ability to stay true to values and commitments. The other is effective decision styles both personally for the leader and organizationally. When people know how the decision will be made and have the opportunity to participate in the decision direction they are far more likely to support the eventual decision.
So keep your commitments and nurture trust. Take the risk of sharing decision making responsibility and grow your team
There are other things that can be done to achieve alignment as well. We will cover them in another post. In the mean time