When a car’s alignment isn’t calibrated correctly the results can be costly. It may not steer properly by pulling to one side or the other. Tires often wear unevenly. Advanced safety features like electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and traction control can all be affected.
Alignment also matters when leaders are attempting to launch a new initiative. Too often leaders will simply share the big picture vision for the project and begin the implementation process. When things don’t go as planned, it’s often because they failed to align everyone to what they are hoping to achieve.
Alignment is how leaders get the buy-in needed for a vision or project to be successful.
Team members need to know what is expected and why it is important. Without alignment, questions and concerns go unanswered and excitement quickly fades.
There are three proven ways to achieve greater success when aligning people to a vision.
- Be clear. Alignment is dependent on good communication. Messages must be planned and delivered in a rational and structured way. Otherwise, your intentions may be misunderstood and rejected.
- Engage in real dialogue. Leaders must show a willingness to answer questions, hear concerns, and honor other perspectives. Without this approach, team members can easily become discouraged and believe their opinions don’t matter.
- Commit to inspiring everyone. Some leaders struggle to show their excitement and confidence that everything can, and will, be accomplished. Going through the motions isn’t enough. Your team needs to believe in the vision and their own ability to deliver it, especially if things get tough.
In my work with leadership teams, I have discovered a pretty significant gap in the skills that create alignment. When leaders are confronted with this reality they are often surprised. Most of them haven’t seriously considered the important role that alignment plays in project management.
The next time you are considering a new initiative ask yourself, “Have I done enough to provide my team with clarity about the objectives and their contributions? Am I aware and listening to the questions and concerns they are raising? Is my passion for this project obvious, and do they know I believe in their ability to make it happen?”
If the answer to any of these questions is “no” it’s time to stop and rethink your strategy. Great communication keeps everyone engaged and on track. Nothing derails a project faster than confusion or the sense that the opinions of others don’t matter.
Alignment is the bridge between your big audacious goal and the successful execution you hope to achieve. Don’t neglect it.
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