People often say we need to stop, slow down, take more time to think about what we’re doing and reflect on the bigger picture. Quite often that just isn’t possible; and in a global pandemic, it’s certainly a luxury many teams haven’t had.
Over the summer months the role of leadership came up again and again. The need for visibility, to be human, to lead and to be decisive. The pressure has been high and I don’t think it’s passed.
It was these thoughts that led me to a discussion with Benjamin Ellis, our data scientist, to consider how we can help leaders and help them at pace. I’ve always wanted Redefining Communications to be the partner for teams that helps takes the hassle away – bringing the calm that clients really need right now.
The conversation with Benjamin turned into the development of the Leadership Alignment Tool, a diagnostic tool designed to help leadership teams refocus. This isn’t about a laborious process that takes weeks, sometimes months to work through. It’s four weeks from the initial phone call to the findings being shared.
We don’t have the luxury of time
We need to know what we need to do right now. If we don’t address issues when we start to see them, we end up in a state of chaos. Some of the symptoms that come from this include lack of leadership alignment, missing skills or an inability to make decisions.
To diagnose what’s going on with leadership teams, we combine the theory we know about organisations and people to reduce the chaos from the top.
The seven components that affect leadership teams
For us, there are seven themes to explore, which is how we built the Leadership Alignment Tool: accountability, adaptability, capability, communication, connection, strategy and velocity…
Accountability – exploring how comfortable the team is with being accountable, which links to the ability to make decisions and manage consequences. This isn’t about blame; it’s important to explore how people are held to account inside the organisation.
Adaptability – investigating how the organisation and the leadership team deals with change and failure.
Capability – does everyone have the right skills to do what’s needed well? And, if there are gaps, are they known and being acted upon? Importantly, do leaders have the resources and capacity?
Communication – what does this look like for the organisation – are people clear on the strategy and is the communication effective? Do people have everything they need practically, and from a knowledge point of view, to do their jobs effectively? Is there a desire to engage in conversation, not just one-way messaging? As the life blood of any organisation, this is a core component to explore.
Connection – an understanding of how connected teams are (in leadership) and how connected the people are to the strategy and purpose of the organisation.
Strategy – is there an understanding of what it is people should be working toward? And are they taking clear actions to support the strategy?
Velocity – how the organisation moves, how it’s shaped and how quickly it can shift to respond to external forces.
Working through these themes helps diagnose what’s really going on, since it encompasses the breadth of the organisation and the impact of leadership. Once you have this big-picture insight, you can start to see the situation more clearly, understand issues and identify what you need to focus on first to shift your organisation.