May 22, 2023

How Executive Alignment Can Power Organizational Goals

By: sanjay sathe

Every organization has a company vision and mission statement; they show the organizational framework that guides all decisions its executive leadership team makes. However, assessing if this framework is being implemented in the organization is essential. If it is, that means that the entirety of the organization stays aligned with the company’s vision and goals. Let’s consider Apple, Inc. as an example. What comes to mind when you think about this organization?

How Executive Alignment Can Power Organizational Goals
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At Apple, every employee knows the company’s intentions and what they stand for. Employees up and down the corporate ladder are aware that they are creating some of the world’s most innovative technological products and services. Employees also recognize that their work goes far beyond their personal goals. They understand why they are at Apple and realize that working at Apple is not just a career choice. It also represents a significant part of their identity.

So how does the entire organization have a single point of focus? That’s what we call alignment.

What is Executive Alignment

Executive alignment exists within the senior leadership of an organization. Although a company may have a powerful mission and a prospective idea, senior leadership misalignment is often the cause of a company’s dysfunction and ultimate failure. If the executive leadership team is not aligned frequently, there is a risk of losing focus on the company’s mission and vision.

Alignment in an organization is built and maintained through constant communication and an understanding of the organization’s purpose. This is an ongoing process in the life cycle of the senior management team. 

One of the classic examples of growth through executive alignment is when Steve Jobs returned to Apple long after he was ousted from his own company. The first thing he did was restructure the leadership team to align with the organizational vision. When meeting with his design teams, rather than asking about the latest updates, he asked them what the designs meant to them and if they understood Apple’s mission. His focus on alignment was crucial in making Apple what it is today.

Regardless of their ideological differences, executive leaders such as Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella, Tim Cook, and their senior management teams all work towards the common goal of their respective organizations. Successful businesses maintain efficient and stable senior management teams by focusing on a shared vision and company goal. They align their personal goals with the organization’s mission and often use executive leadership programs.

Alignment & Misalignment Starts at the Top

It is widely understood that alignment begins at the top of the organization. When the executive leadership is aligned with the company’s goals, this alignment usually trickles down throughout the organization. Conversely, any misalignment will also trickle down throughout the organization.

Misalignments are not uncommon. Great organizations work through misalignments to bring the focus back to the larger purpose of the organization’s goals.

This does not imply that executive leaders will always agree with one another. The importance comes from ensuring the team aligns with the organization’s mission and goals.

Common Signs of Misalignment:

  • Spontaneous decrease in communication – This happens unconsciously when multiple team members feel that their ideas and opinions aren’t being acknowledged. Since the leadership members feel unheard by their counterparts, they stop expressing their thoughts to each other.
  • Implementing ideas with good intent but without the team’s consensus – Gathering consensus often takes a while. Sometimes, team members may need clarification about why they are not reaching conclusive decisions. 
  • Company leaders stop taking responsibility for their actions and decisions – Where there is no responsibility, there is no leadership, and blame takes over, creating a toxic work environment.
  • An environment of mistrust is created – Team members begin to operate in isolation. This can lead to a lack of new ideas and hinder team creativity.
  • Team members lose the organization’s greater vision – Team members start focusing solely on individual goals. Having lost the organization’s vision, the company loses track of where they are headed, ultimately leading to a decline at all levels.

Importance of Alignment:

To maintain an efficient and creative team, aligning individual and company goals is essential. When cross-functional leadership teams are working together on a common goal of the organization, it indicates that the leadership is in alignment. 

One noteworthy example of company alignment is the TATA Group of India which owns Land Rover and Jaguar globally. Despite over a century in business, the company has experienced very little executive-level dissonance and continues to grow globally. TATA is a model for industrialization and social responsibility. Each business within the group adheres to the company’s vision focusing on good corporate governance and the growth of the company’s reach. 

Recently, TATA experienced some misalignments when Cyrus Mistry took over the company. The management’s decisions did not reflect the principal values of the company, and significant corporate misalignment spread throughout the group. To prevent further dysfunction, the executive leadership had to be changed. After implementing that change, the TATA group represents one of the world’s largest employers and most respected organizations.

How to Achieve Executive Leadership Alignment

Executive alignment can be achieved through company structuring focused on the organization’s common goal. The specific methodologies likely differ between organizations, but the aim is to strive toward a shared vision. The following are some effective practices for achieving executive alignment.

  1. Align with the WHY (clarity of organizational and personal goals) Believing in the vision and mission of the organization is the first step toward finding alignment within your company. This leads to setting goals that match the mission and further expanding the scope of the company vision. A clear purpose gives direction to the overall growth of the organization. This shared vision ensures the executive leadership stays united, despite disagreements.
  2. Leadership programs & interactions Leadership programs help create close bonds within the executive team. Executive coaching programs, mentorship, events, and informal communication create an environment of trust. 
  3. Communication Effective communication is not just the exchange of information but the sharing of intent while also involving all stakeholders throughout the decision-making process. Prioritizing frequent and open communication is crucial so everyone involved can express and share their opinions. As the project progresses and new challenges emerge, it is vital to continue this open communication.
  4. Allow confrontation before conflict Encouraging constructive and respectful confrontation is a mature approach when dealing with disagreements. Members of the leadership team should feel free to express their ideas and opinions to each other to achieve the best possible outcomes. Established organizations view confrontations as a way to grow and learn from one another. Confrontations eliminate misalignments and replace them with productivity when working towards a shared goal.
  5. Consistent evaluation of goals versus reality Regular progress evaluation helps organizations to stay on course when working towards their goal. When dealing with multiple moving parts and complex challenges, the only effective way to stay on course is through evaluation and communication with the executive leadership. In addition to keeping the organizational leaders on a path with the goal, this approach creates a sense of urgency and cultivates a positive and efficient environment.

Conclusion

To efficiently and effectively achieve corporate goals, organizational alignment is crucial for high-performing companies. It is vital to ensure that the company’s leaders understand its vision so that they can align their values accordingly. Once they believe in the shared vision, only then will they have the zeal to make the vision a reality. 

If you found this post informative, you’ll definitely benefit from reading our post on the 5 Ways Modern Executive Search Produces Results Fast.

Hiring Managers, upgrade your approach by leveraging a modern executive search platform that can save you time and resources while ensuring you find the best candidate for your organization. Schedule a demo of the SucceedSmart platform today and start seeing the results you deserve.

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