Over the last few weeks, we’ve been having a conversation about clarity and alignment and the role of leaders in creating these for everyone in an organisation.
This week, we further explore Organisation Leadership Alignment (OLA). OLA is the oil that enables organisation to operate smoothly. A sure sign that an organisation has achieved OLA is when sense that everyone in the business understands what they are doing and why, and where they fit into the bigger picture. They will generally be engaged and giving that discretionary effort that all leaders are looking for!
Aligning all Leadership in an organisation seems like an incredibly obvious thing to do. But there are many things that get in the way. Being busy is a big one. Leaders in today’s business world are dealing with a complex operating environment and with many stakeholders. Once the strategy is set, many leaders are “dragged away” to other things and communicating what’s important can slip between the cracks.
We certainly don’t argue that leaders have the luxury of being able to spend all their time focused internally explaining the “why” to employees. However, a few additional steps following an executive planning meeting can deliver significant traction in the implementation of the great ideas that have been discussed. A few things to consider:
- Who is “decoding” the initiatives that the leadership team has decided on into language that everyone will understand and relate to?
- Who is making the connections to all the roles that will be involved in implementation so that the “why” can be explained to them? And perhaps most importantly;
- Who is thinking about how the senior leadership team can equip all leaders (from senior levels through to the front line) with what they need to be confident in explaining to their teams what their role is in delivering on the strategy.
It is this last point where we see many organisations take short cuts for expediency’s sake. Mid-level and front-line leaders are often receiving the same communication at the same time that their teams receive it. Not only have those leaders not been solicited for input on the direction, and had their own questions answered, they are often left high and dry in terms of being able to explain any new initiatives to their team members and answer any questions they may have about it.
One of our clients has nailed OLA. They hold regular briefings for all leaders. It’s just part of what they do. From CEO to the front line. Those briefings are quick, but they ensure that everyone knows what’s important, and what outcomes are expected. They allow questions to be asked and for all leaders to be prepared before the broader communication goes out to the business.
The outcome of OLA is that leaders at all levels feel empowered and valued. They are able to speak with conviction and confidence to their teams, answer their questions and ensure they understand the “why” of what it is the team has been tasked to do.
Understanding the why leads to an engaged workforce. An engaged workforce will always outperform a workforce that isn’t led by well-informed leaders. Organisation Leadership Alignment or OLA – it’s a powerful thing!