As a leader have you ever been in a meeting where someone says, “Are we all on the same page?” And everyone nods obediently, only to go off and do their own thing?
You’re not alone.
The alignment between behaviours and purpose is an important part of culture and critical for success. Just as important is the need to align business strategy with communications strategy.
I talk a lot about how communication can bring a sense of calm in an organisation or team. And when we look at the opposite of this – chaos – it doesn’t necessarily mean people running around in a panic. It’s about a lack of alignment, a lack of focus, lack of awareness and an overall lack of understanding.
A big symptom of chaos is lack of alignment in the leadership team.
This manifests as an inability to make decisions that move things forward and egos that slow or stop progress. A leadership team needs to be aligned, because when it isn’t the result is a lack of trust. Individuals might develop different agendas that don’t align with the organisation’s goals. There also might be different messaging. And if the cascade isn’t lined up, there’ll be inconsistent information sharing.
Apathy—where leaders just don’t take part—is one of the worst outcomes. Nodding is easy. Real action is the hard part.
Uniting leaders to the overall agenda is difficult for many organisations – moving in the same direction of travel, particularly when more people are working remotely isn’t easy.
So, what can you do to reunite, strengthen and align your leadership team?
Five steps to reunite your leadership team
Step one: look at what’s really going on, and why people aren’t aligned. It’s important to identify where a lack of unity exists. The fear of being vulnerable with team members often prevents the building of trust, so that needs to be addressed head-on.
Step two: make sure that how you lead your team has some similarities to the way other leaders in your business lead their own teams. This isn’t about everyone operating in the same way, which is boring and non-authentic. It’s about strengthening the leadership team. Weak teams with different experiences develop distrust, which creates a state of threat.
Step three: close the disconnect between what you say you’re going to do and what you actually do. Words and actions matter. This always comes up. If you say that your door is always open but you aren’t really available, that can have an effect on people. Narrowing the say-do gap is a key step in the leadership alignment process.
Step four: ensure you and your leadership team agree on what the words you use mean. Consider “collaboration,” “connection” and “silo working,” for example: What do these words mean in your organisation? Get specific. A leadership team is full of different individuals with their own perceptions and beliefs, so make time to agree on what important keywords really mean.
Step five: make space for open debate and hold respectful conversations that are constructive. Remember that people can disagree with you and have different opinions and you can still work together. You and the rest of your team must be able to have productive disagreements to move forward and make changes.
Following these steps isn’t a one-off process, it needs continual focus for continual cohesion.
If you’d like to find out more about leadership alignment, this blog, The seven essential elements of organisational transformation looks at the themes that focus on how leaders lead their organisation. We also talk more about this topic in Harnessing the power of the group, featured in our monthly LinkedIn newsletter – The Leadership Fix – please do subscribe if you’d like more advice on how communication can solve leadership issues.