Aligning Leadership

In order to benefit from integration within an organization, it is vital that the leadership of the company be aligned.  In fact, strategy development is all about aligning leadership.  However, having a great strategy does not align the leadership.  It is fully possible to have aligned leadership without a documented strategy.  It is also possible to have a clearly documented strategy and unaligned leadership.

Aligned Leadership

Aligning the leaders of the organization is about two key things.  The first is identifying who the leaders are. The second is identifying what the key alignment points are.

Who are the Leaders?

Often when we enter an organization to talk about leadership, we are presented with an organization chart.  To set the stage clearly, I’d like to differentiate between leadership and management.  Organization chart detail the management structure in an organization.  The leadership of an organization can not be seen on an organization chart.  While building leadership skills among management is vital, leaders sit at all organizational levels and in all positions.

I expect that, like me, you have worked with colleagues who could inspire you to give your all assisting them even though what they were asking wa far outside of your job description.  They simply painted such a compelling picture of the future that you wanted to be a part of it.  Often they reside in other parts of the organization.  They aren’t your boss or even your direct co-worker.  They are, however, leaders.  Leadership is the ability to inspire others to willingly follow you.  The successful organization will breed leadership from the top to the very bottom of the organization, knowing that each leader influences a part of the organization.

What are the key alignment points?

Identifying key alignment points is where strategy may come into play.  Clearly, most organizations begin without a clearly documented strategy.  Entrepreneurial start-ups are typically based on the compelling vision of the founders.  When Microsoft started work, it didn’t have a fancy strategy document.  Instead, there was a leadership with a well-articulated vision.  However, as companies grow and expand, each new person that is brought into the organization must be made a part of the vision.  This challenge leads to the need for a documented strategy.

Each organization will have different key alignment touch points depending on its long term goals.  Bringing these into the onboarding process for each new employee is a challenge that the entire management team must embrace.

Integrating work across the organization requires each team member to be working with the other toward a single goal.  This goal is brought alive to the stakeholders of the organization by the leadership – at all levels.