Magazine article People & Strategy

Alignment Makes the Future Possible

Magazine article People & Strategy

Alignment Makes the Future Possible

Article excerpt

If you follow this journal from quarter to quarter, you know that six months ago, we devoted our fall 2016 issue to the theme of candor and transparency, two key attributes that impact who we choose to follow--or not follow--as senior leaders. Three months ago, early in 2017, we devoted our winter issue to the topic of leadership transitions, the actions that promote a smooth and collaborative transfer of power as a new leader takes the helm, as well as what increases or decreases followership. Once in a leadership role, all leaders are faced with the challenge of fostering alignment so they can execute their strategy, elevate the business, and transform where deemed necessary.

This issue of People + Strategy centers on the role of alignment and how leaders can be more successful transforming the companies they lead. Is it simply a matter of getting the culture right in the first place? Given how long it takes to change culture, that would suggest a slower pace to the future, unless alignment efforts are embedded within the existing culture.

What about the importance of talent practices to align people across the company, which is close to the heart of what so many of us focus upon? Some might argue that the key levers are organizational design, and that these basic building blocks form the architecture around which people understand roles, relationships, and who is on the same team or not. Yes, in some ways it is all of these things, but in the end, we must choose where to place emphasis--where to invest our time and energy.

Lacking alignment, people, teams, and business go off in all manner of directions. Each individual may have a sense of what he or she is doing, but not what we are doing. Efficiency is absent, effectiveness of action elusive, and overall impact is muted at best. In contrast, thoughtful, consistent, strong alignment allows a team or business to accelerate like a high-powered speedboat. …

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