This week in a video call, the Good Leadership coaching team was challenged with the question: What does it really mean to be “aligned,” anyway? It’s a legitimate question because the word “alignment” means as many things as the word “strategic” in the business lexicon. Here’s how we answered:
Alignment is when everyone on the team has negotiated and agreed upon: Vision (7 years out),
Breakthrough Goals (3 years out), the strategies to get there, the values to guide our behaviors and decisions,
and the Top 3 Can’t Miss Priorities for the team over the next 12 months.
There’s a lot in that answer – which is why true alignment is difficult to achieve and maintain. The follow-up question the CEO asked was surprising, “I get the vision, goals, and strategy stuff – but how does anyone ever really get aligned on “values?”
Values are like principles: they aren’t valuable unless abiding by them costs you something. We help clients truly understand values with a “T-chart” exercise. The simplest T-chart involves: Synonyms (means the same) and Antonyms (means the opposite.) The secondary part of the “aligned on values” question was this: We’re really struggling for what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not acceptable around working from home (WFH). At the moment, I asked the client to draw a “T” on a piece of paper. Here’s what it looked like:
Over the next few minutes, the client(s) wrote out what is acceptable on the left side of the chart, and what is not acceptable on the right side. It’s the words “look like” that bring out the part of the brain that is visual, which makes their answers more vivid and behavioral. After seeing it all laid out and discussing, they changed their strategy for aligning around their values.
Why is alignment so important?
People get angry when they feel like they are not seeing eye to eye with their colleagues. And when the team at the top is not aligned, everyone suffers.
Is it time to talk about the values of your organization with a T-chart? Reach out and we can help.