Alignment is defined as, “arranging the parts so they are in the proper position.” This is a critical role for a leader. Create alignment. Leaders solve the problem of “non-alignment”.
Alignment is like oxygen. It’s absence demonstrates its importance. With it, your team works better together, your culture deepens more naturally and outcomes are achieved more easily when alignment is present.
Alignment allows you to go further faster. It helps you solve problems quicker and it helps new members get up to speed with less distraction and confusion. When your team is aligned the trip is smoother, better and quicker.
- Top-down leadership
- Ignoring the input of others
- Using power inappropriately
- Conscripting people into a course of action
Alignment is courageously pursuing a unity of heart, a consistency of language and purposeful behaviour. Alignment is giving up what’s best for you personally for the sake of the greater good. Unity parents alignment and alignment parents momentum.
Leaders create alignment by looking for the following four characteristics:
Alignment of Heart.
In the faith world, this is called “Alignment of Spirit” – It’s all about the inner conviction that you are supposed to be doing WITH the people you are doing it with. Some call it a “calling.” It’s the deep inner confidence and conviction that each team member is in the right place and making the right contribution.
You can’t teach this and you can’t buy it. It’s more discovered than developed. It’s the beautiful combination of timing, passion and opportunity. My friend and outstanding thought leader Peter Cook said, “I’ve found my tribe.” When you find a place you truly connect into, alignment feels effortless.
Alignment of heart solves 90% of any problems that might arise in teams. As a leader, you have the responsibility of ensuring people keep this hidden yet important alignment piece, in place.
Alignment of Speech.
Words create worlds. Words also reveal your heart (see above.) Your inner world is revealed by what you say. What you most believe is revealed by the words you speak. Leaders look for people who are deeply aligned in heart and willing to openly and enthusiastically express that in their speech. When your team is aligned in speech there is little confusion about what specific words and phrases mean. Each team member is connected to the words and the meanings in a way that serves the overall vision.
There is a great deal of meaning in the words you use. As a leader, you must use words with intentionality, focus and with purpose. Look for alignment of speech as a leader. Look for people who are willing to take on the “team speak” without losing their individuality or identity. The right language communicates a great deal of power and purpose. The right language has deep levels of meaning attached to it.
Alignment of Behaviour.
When you have alignment of heart you care. When you have alignment of words you declare. When you have alignment of behaviour you contribute to the overall team objectives through what you do (and don’t do.) You know behaviour is the truest test of alignment of heart, and expression of speech.
The good people at The Work Of Leaders say it this way, “True alignment changes the way team members view their actions, they embrace team decisions and organisational actions as if they were their own.” Leaders demonstrate aligned behaviour and quite rightly expect it from team members. “If you want to play here we do it this way” is the critical message to pass on to people joining in for the first time or the first time in a long time. Identify what behaviours will most significantly contribute to the game plan and do those repeatedly.
When alignment is threatened, leaders look for leaders who protect and nurture corporate alignment even when doing so challenges their personal comfort zone. Courageous alignment is when team members put their personal agenda aside for the sake of the team’s agenda.
Courageous alignment is when people are willing to confront the spirit that is out of alignment, words that don’t value add and behaviours that fail to construct a preferred future. Courageous alignment lovingly and daringly points out the incongruity that exists, the problems that are prevalent and the actions that are unhelpful. Courageous alignment stands up for alignment. No matter what.
Alignment really does matter. Keeping the team heading consistently in the right direction is an art as much as a science. May the art of alignment be with you.
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