Aligning Leadership – And Why It Matters
As leadership teams are constantly pulled in numerous, oftentimes conflicting directions, it is crucial that they are aligned in order for the entire organisation to remain focused, competitive, and agile. If leaders at every level are not on the same page, results become vulnerable. Alignment becomes even more important when an organisation needs to transform its business.
Throughout our discussions with Executive Leadership Team members, nearly 87 % of ~150 participating leaders said their organisations were either in the middle of a major transformation effort or had completed one in the past three years to address a priority strategy move.
Whether it’s an entirely new strategy or a revision of an existing one, strategy adjustments signify flexibility and openness to ever-changing markets. However, it also requires considerable effort on the part of the leadership team to welcome a broader conversation and embrace an organisation-wide behaviour change. Making sure the strategy is rolled out correctly and its impact fully realised is well worth the effort.
Keeping a program on track begins with leaders aligned on the new strategy and how it will be achieved. There are several ways to make sure that your leadership team is on the same page when preparing your organisation for a strategic transition.
Communication with large groups: Leverage learning technologies
Having consistent messaging can be a major challenge for organisations embarking on change. Approaches to strategic alignment that use learning technologies designed to reach large audiences—such as webcasts and learning programs—provide shared, contextualised learning experiences for senior leaders. Such experiences, in turn, encourage spirited conversation about the change the organisation wants to make and helps to propel strategies forward.
By using these learning technologies, everyone has the opportunity to be an active member of the same conversation, with the ability to contribute ideas on how new innovations or processes can shift in order to meet the organisation’s new strategy. Experts who can serve as functional or operational leaders can then be brought in to help link the learning to the organisation’s strategy and goals.
Bring experts into the classroom
Engaging top-level leaders by exposing them to internal and external experts can open the door to new ideas and insights from shared experiences. External experts can be brought in to hold formal sessions, or simply sit down for a half-hour, to provide conceptual frameworks and new methods of thinking that are actionable, memorable, and clear—such as frameworks outlining capabilities to improve strategic agility.
The internal experts can then build on the learning content from the external experts to contextualise the learning to meet their organisation’s specific goals, knowing how different components will fit best in the business’ specific processes and how to identify specific roles at each step of the program rollout and delegate among teams.
This approach also offers a shared vision and understanding for top-level leaders on the need for change, who can then relay this language to team members in a clear, concise, and meaningful way.
Leaders in the top echelon of the organisation can be transformed into teachers
Top-level leaders participating in strategic alignment programming can become teachers for their own teams, bringing them into the discussion about the organisation’s new direction. This approach scales the learning across the organisation quickly, helping all employees master the concepts related to the strategy and build a shared language for discussion. It also fosters a collective sense of ownership for the new strategy.
Empowering top-level leaders to become advocates of the new strategy and serve as leaders-as-teachers with their mid-level leader teams also encourages ownership among mid-level leaders in driving the initiative forward. Confidence in the reasoning behind, and benefits of, the transition results in a more effective change strategy by raising awareness and transparency around the changes to come, allowing mid-level leaders to perform their critical role in propelling the execution of the strategy forward.
Implementing and executing a new strategic direction within an organisation is no easy feat, but aligning everyone around the strategy’s vision, goals, and approach to change is the key to success. While there can be challenges to implementing an effective strategic alignment program, the right approach can minimise them. Leadership alignment programs that include these characteristics will have a true and lasting impact on any transition your organisation takes on.
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About the Author
Jason Novobranec is Implementary’s Chief Operating Officer.
With over 20 years of Consulting, Program Management & Senior Leadership experience, Jason has delivered initiatives for large multi-national / multi-regional organisations as well as SME’s and is an expert in shaping solutions to fit a customer’s project needs.