Blog

Leadership alignment – a lesson from politics

The recent leadership debate in Canberra is a reminder of the potential damage that misaligned leadership can cause.

There are similar parallels in the corporate world.

Ogilvy Impact has over 18 years’ experience guiding organisations in communicating key issues, including change, vision and organisational culture. And we’ve seen how even the strongest strategies can be delayed, or even derailed, by misaligned or disconnected leadership – costing organisations time, money and competitive advantage. Here are some of the scenarios we’ve seen, and our top tips for avoiding them:

Leadership lacks clarity or agreement on strategy

We’ve seen this scenario lead to executives heading off in their own directions, only to be reigned back in when actions start to conflict. CEOs don’t have time to continually ‘herd cats’, so make sure your leadership team understands and believes in the strategy. If they don’t, find out why not – and work through your differences before you try to move forward.

New leadership team has not formed a cohesive unit

We have seen experienced leadership teams comprised of great individuals, yet struggle to work and think as a cohesive leadership unit. Ultimately this makes it difficult to get anything off the ground – and, at worst, their conflicting priorities can stall projects mid-stream. All relationships need work, so invest in the time and effort required to get to know each other, form a shared mental model, and agree ways of working.

Organisation plans to communicate a project before leadership buy-in

For department or project leads, pushing ahead with something you believe in has its merits. But if it’s going to get roadblocked at the top, you could end up frustrated – at best. Take the time to articulate to leaders why your project is important, and work out what it will take to gain their support, before you forge too far ahead.

Leadership tries to articulate the strategy before it’s fully agreed

We strongly advise that organisations communicate their vision to their employees, to increase engagement and commitment. But not before the leadership has confirmed it. Trying to agree your strategy while planning your communications will not lead to the best results. So avoid costly and confusing re-writes of an engagement strategy by first ensuring the leadership team is in clear agreement.

In each of these scenarios, and many others, alignment is key. Differences in opinion are not undesirable – diversity brings richness, and senior executives should use their experience to question. But to move forward you need alignment, or at least agreement, on your direction.

Investing in an alignment session with an experienced, external facilitator can pay dividends. The use of impartial expertise can bring together your thinking, see where the gaps are and help you move ahead as one team. As well as helping you develop more effective communication, it will likely save you time and money.

We will find out in September how much Labor’s leadership debate has affected them. But proactive investment in aligning your organisation’s leadership should stop your stakeholders voting with their feet.

Want to know more about how leadership alignment can help your business? Contact Ogilvy Impact on +61 2 8281 3222 / info@ogilvyimpact.com.au.