Alignment is key. Some companies do it very well. Some look at alignment at the start of a change and then assume that's done and in place. Yet from experience we know the latter doesn't work in practice.
Many organizations approach alignment as telling their people about what they should be thinking. The common practice is getting the people to think the same way with regards to the mission and task at hand. The real challenge is about the alignment of action. If you can agree on where you're going, what does success look like and understand that, you can then agree on the actions you need to take as a team.
This is key as everyone is coming and going in different directions. It's important to understand the individual difficulties in getting to a common point. That assistance helps in ensuring the actions line up towards the common goal. It's very important to appreciate where people are coming from in order to understand their state of mind and provide the assistance required.
For leaders today it's critical to understand what their people are feeling. At different levels of a company the challenges are different and that creates a totally different state of mind. Understanding this, knowing how their team is looking at the challenges and the thoughts they have on it, helps leaders in creating the necessary alignment for the team to pull together as one.
The other critical point about alignment to keep in mind is that:
A) it's not binary
B) it's not fixed
There are degrees of alignment and it's momentary.
Alignment is foundational for any company, or clusters of groups of people, can achieve anything. The more one works on alignment the more one is bound to succeed. Not to mention it drastically reduces the benefit leakages and stress & frustration.
Leaders need to have patience, ask open ended questions and listen to the feedback. It helps bring out the challenges or obstacles and how those can be managed. Addressing those with positive suggestions creates the grounds for good alignment to occur.
Today with the way technology is evolving there is a real opportunity to look at how do you implement and utilise technology to help leaders collect and organize opinions so that one can work on the areas where there's non-alignment.