The next letter in the L.E.A.D.E.R.S. Development Model is A.
A stands for alignment.
- When people clearly understand the vision, mission and strategy of the organization, there is alignment.
- When employees understand how their job contributes to the fulfillment of the vision and mission, there is alignment.
- When employees’ personal values are in agreement with the organization’s values, there is alignment.
Fundamentally, the word alignment indicates that all are pulling in the same direction. Leaders align co-workers by making clear the direction in which the organization is heading and by gaining the commitment among them necessary to achieve its vision, mission, and strategy.
Strategic alignment is absolutely vital to the successful implementation of strategic change initiatives. The phrase “line of sight” is often used when speaking of this type of employee alignment with organizational strategy. This concept of line of sight refers to the ability of employees to not only knowing their organization’s strategic goals but also what they need to do in order to achieve those goals.
Ensuring that there is alignment requires time and effort on the part of leadership. It means that leaders must regularly communicate the vision and mission in more than one way, repeating it so that people have a chance not just to hear, but to respond, ask questions, and obtain the clarity necessary for synergy of activity to occur.
This processing period is often overlooked by leaders, who spend large amounts of time debating and clarifying direction, vision and goals, only then to make a 10-minute announcement to the rest of the organization, who are then expected to be immediately onboard with the decision. The leaders should allow almost the same amount of time for the rest of the organization to come to grips with their decision as it took those leaders to reach that decision. Leaders need to give others time to “make sense” of what’s happening through debate, listening, asking questions, and having informal discussions so that the direction is clearly understood not just by leaders, but by everyone who has a stake in the decision made or direction established.