For some, this is a radical idea: As you execute priorities through the coming year, imagine that colleagues became stronger in their alignment—rather than fractured, frayed and frazzled.
The notion of becoming better together through the stress of execution is not radical; it’s achievable.
Here’s what’s required:
1. Step beyond the belief that aligning a group of people only requires establishing a shared objective.
Intellectual alignment = shallow alignment. This means your plan fails the moment A) egos become too big or a fight for control ensues, B) colleagues are incentivized to accomplish different objectives, or C) the needs of your customer changes (which is frequent).
Most leaders only work to align colleagues to shared objectives because they’re afraid or don’t know how to create deep alignment. You form deep alignment by operationalizing #2 and #3.
2. Insist on integrity.
Severe threats to your team’s alignment occur daily. Your culture should not and cannot be negotiable. Insist that everyone consistently demonstrates agreed upon values. Reward people quickly for doing so; provide consequences when they don’t.
When colleagues are leading with their heart—doing what’s right and being accountable to the community—they will fight off the threats to the team’s alignment. No longer will it be okay to operate with a “we-them” mindset. No longer will it be okay to operate outside agreed upon norms.
3. Build relational capital.
Relational capital is more than simply having trust, strong communication flow or collaboration. While trust is important, what good is trust or any other behavioral capability if it doesn’t create more value for the organization?
There are a lot of teams comprised of colleagues who are trusting friends that aren’t productive or delivering high performance.
Relational capital is the value you create through others. With it, the moment a colleague senses there’s a lack of alignment among colleagues, action occurs: They engage with team members in service to them for the purpose of advancing their shared cause.
The energy—the excitement and optimism—your colleagues currently possess for this year’s priorities should not diminish in the days ahead; instead, the opposite can and should be true.
P.S. As we equip leaders around the world on how to create deep alignment, I’ve discovered a remarkable truth: Employees crave alignment. Therefore, because employees and the organizations for which they work want the same thing, why not make it a daily discipline?