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  • Writer's pictureJayne McQuillan

Is Your Top Team Fully Aligned?

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

Journey Consulting Green Bay WI Business Consultant

Do you say any of these things with regard to your executive team?  

  • All team members are not 100% on board with decisions, or pulling in the same direction.

  • We have an executive group, yet they are not acting as a unified team.

  • We are lacking a clear, compelling future that everyone is completely focused on.

  • I'm not sure if the next level down the organization is on board with us.

If you are experiencing any one or more of these, then here are some thoughts about getting your top-team aligned and moving in the right direction.

A fully aligned executive team is one:  

  • that has a powerful, compelling future that it is driving towards.

  • where everyone, individually and collectively, fully owns that vision as well as any business or company decision made by that team.

  • that understands and accepts the decision-making process of the team

  • where everyone on the team is fully committed to every other member's success.

In order to get aligned, an executive team needs to learn to have open, honest discussion about the company's future and alternative courses of action. Without straight talk and good listening skills,potent debate is not possible. Team members must learn to effectively push against and pull from each other in order to both have mutual understanding of where things currently are, as well as make effective decisions and fully commit to a course of action. Without the development of a guiding vision and unifying strategic objectives, team members will most certainly be rowing in different directions.

An executive team makes countless decisions. Team members must understand and accept whether those decisions will be made via the team leader's direction, with their consultation with the team, by majority rule, via team participation and consensus, or by the leader's delegation to the team.  Consensus is time consuming and hard to achieve for all decisions; so, team members must be okay when the leader takes a directive or consultative stance on some important issues. As long as it is not illegal, unethical or counter one's core values, team members must be able to walk away from any leadership or team decision fully accepting and owning it, even if they were not in 100% agreement with it. After putting up a full and fair fight, team members must be able to fully align with the ultimate decision, even if it did not go their way. Otherwise, top-team members walk away unaligned, with mixed messages and conflicting action going out into the organization. The result is decisions being resisted, undermined or sabotaged, which will damage your organization and the credibility of your leadership.

Executive team alignment is not an easy feat to accomplish. It requires adhering to a principle of fully owning a decision or course of action once it is made, as well as building a capability in your executive team of how they will continually conduct themselves in relation to those decisions. Ultimately, top-team alignment means that every executive is working for every other team member's success within the company. When team members are doing that, then your team is unstoppable.

*adapted from the work of Miles Kierson, author of The Transformational Power of Executive Team and Harry Simkovits, President of Business Wisdom.

Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, CEPA is a strategic management consultant, and the owner of Journey Consulting, LLC, in Green Bay

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