Alignment: Clarity and Commitment


Video Transcript

When we talk about alignment at a leadership level, what we’re really talking about is the level of clarity and the level of commitment that that group of people has towards the understanding of their objectives and the outcomes that they’re looking for.

If you want to imagine these two things on a graph with commitment on the bottom and clarity on the vertical axis, the bottom left where you start, where most organizations start, we call the foggy forest. There’s a very low commitment, very low clarity and teams and organizations don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know why they’re doing it. Their dedication to the outcomes that they’re getting is very low. And the results that you’re getting here are random at best.

There are some organizations that have a very high degree of commitment. There’s a lot of cultural strength. There’s a lot of energy. They believe in what they’re doing, but they lack the clarity in how they’re going to get there or even the outcomes that they’re trying to achieve.

And in that quadrant, in that blind stampede, there are a lot of people running with a lot of energy and a lot of different directions. But still they’re not getting the results that they want with the consistency that they’re looking for.

Sometimes even more dangerous is to have a lot of clarity and a very low degree of commitment, and there end up being just a few individuals who are working really hard on something that they’re very clear about. But it lacks a lot of energy or political will from the organization to get those things done.

And that Lone Ranger scenario, you often feel like you’re out on an island and the people around you aren’t supporting the outcomes that you’re looking for. This one may often also feel like a leader or a CEO who has not communicated effectively within the organization. And they look around and they feel like everybody who is supposed to be running with them has not caught up.

That’s a symptom often of poor communication and therefore low degrees of commitment in the organization.

When you have a high degree of commitment and a high degree of clarity, what you get is an entire leadership team and really an entire organization that knows what they’re supposed to be doing. And their focus and their goals are really directed towards that outcome.

It’s what we’re looking for when we talk about alignment with leadership teams, and it’s really the gold standard of what you can achieve when you’re all moving in the same direction.

You may find yourself in a situation where you may be low on either one of these spectrums. If you feel like your team is low on its understanding and its clarity, I would ask “what” kind of questions. I would say what is our goal? What are we chasing after? What would be a measure of success? What does it look like to be really great at this? Driving answers in that category will get you more clarity about where you’re going.

If I have commitment issues, then I’m asking “why” questions. Why do you feel like this way is the wrong way to do this? Why do you feel like your direction or your pathway would be a better outcome? And take the time to work through your questions and answers on both of those scales.

It requires a lot of time and energy to get high degrees of commitment and high degrees of clarity, but doing it is worth it every single time.

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