Our experience tells us that executive alignment is at the heart of any organization’s ability to achieve spectacular business results. It underlies the success or failure of the organization to achieve strategic business goals. The perception by middle managers and the workforce of the executive team’s aligned commitment to stated goals is critical to engaging the organization’s willingness to own and deliver on strategic agendas.
Executive alignment is not “buy-in” or willingness to “go along with”, it is a commitment to work in new ways. To achieve authentic alignment, most executive teams need to examine and shift their “network of practices”, the ways they interact and behave. The executive alignment process reveals what is missing in the way the executive team operates, it illuminates what’s required to turn strategic intentions into real business results.
Alignment frequently requires that certain individual thoughts and conversations be moved from the background (internal, or private) to the foreground (open/public). Personal agendas and concerns must be openly discussed and authentically dealt with, while sustaining and even enhancing the relationships and commitment within the executive team.
Alignment is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. The capability to regenerate alignment is an executive team competency that develops over time. The real test for alignment occurs as operational detail is worked out, as new roles and accountabilities are taken on, and the new strategy is implemented, on-the-court. The single most important measure of success is employee perception of executive alignment. Too often executive teams are seen to be pulling in different directions by others in the organization, which is almost certain death to any new strategy.