On Leadership and Alignment

Interesting conversations with senior executives in multiple organizations have brought me to thinking of alignment and coherence again. Often times the misalignment shouts at your face despite spending only a short time in these conversations.

Bill George, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School, and former CEO of Medtronic says, “The most empowering condition of all is when the entire organization is aligned with its mission, and people’s passions and purpose are in synch with each other.”

Within an organization, if teams don’t have synchronization, they will be completing tasks without bringing together passion and goals. Alignment conserves time and energy by making sure everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing and why. It’s about getting both emotional and rational buy-in to a vision. Alignment also provides a forum for questions and concerns, giving everyone an opportunity to feel a sense of ownership in the vision. And alignment unites and excites people around a vision.

There is nothing sadder than an organization full of outstanding individuals but with poor leadership, they lose a sense of purpose when the lack of direction and vision are close to not existing. True leaders, having a clear understanding of what “building alignment” even means in the context of leadership are rare, and it is them we nostalgically talk about when we remember “that guy, one of the best managers I ever had”.

Effective leaders understand that alignment is not something to check off a to-do list. Alignment is a dynamic, ongoing process that requires continual monitoring and realigning as conditions and needs change. 

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