The People Alignment Compass – Part 1

A leaders’ guide to mastering the Essence of People Alignment in today’s business reality.

The People Alignment Compass articles provide tips and insights on how leaders can create people alignment. The checklists are hands-on and based on real life situations that I encountered over the many years that I worked with leaders in a variety of organizations and within a range of different cultures. If there is one fundamental insight that I would take out of these years it is the ever-increasing importance for leaders to be able to create people alignment in today’s rapidly changing world. Not just aligning structures, procedures or systems, but people!

Successful leaders create organizations where people choose to collaborate when confronted with complex challenges and change. Where people create strength out of diversity and cultural differences. Where people act out of a common focus and sense of direction, and ‘own’ decisions reached as if they were their own.

Cross-cultural effectiveness.  Innovation.   Sound solutions.  Fast decisions.  Successful execution.  All these increasingly depend on your ability to lead people and create a culture of alignment.  The People Alignment Compass (PAC) helps you to detect potential weak spots in people alignment and points you at possible ways to strengthen it.  Each episode addresses a different situation and provides key questions to guide you as you develop your own people alignment sensors.  I wish you an inspiring journey!

 Situation – How to spot alignment (or a lack of it) during team meetings?

More than once we mistake a group of people for a real team. Like this executive who was very proud of his leadership team. They were together for more than 6 years; they all were very experienced; they knew each other very well. Nevertheless, business was not going as good as before. They spent numerous hours in meetings to discuss appropriate actions. Unfortunately the expected results did not materialize.

What he didn’t notice during the team meetings was the fact that his team was much less aligned than he thought. How could he spot this lack of alignment in the team? What signals could he pick up?

One of the elements that reveal people alignment (or a lack of it) during team meetings is the way people communicate with each other. Pay special attention to the details.

PAC Checklist – Spotting (a lack of) alignment by zooming in on communication details

Are people talking in “Them / You” or in “Us / We”?

  • If it’s the former, then why do they do this?  Ask them.
  • What would happen if we would shift to using inclusive language (Us / We)? How would it change our mental focus? How would that affect the atmosphere in the meeting?

How often do you hear people asking questions versus giving opinions and explanations?

  • Are we ‘listening to understand’ or are we ‘listening to react’? Why?
  • What would happen if we asked more questions? What would it do the mutual understanding within the team?

Are we building on the argumentation of the other or are we following our own reasoning?

  • Are we focusing on the same topic or do we mix multiple topics? Do we do this deliberately? Why?
  • If not, what would happen if we would have single topic discussions? How would it strengthen our analysis of existing issues?

Asking these questions during team meetings will fundamentally change your team meetings. It will focus the team’s energy on building alignment and becoming a stronger team.

Feel free to leave your ideas and comments below!

If you would like to discuss things in private or want to know more about our services contact me here directly.


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