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.
Situation – How to spot alignment (or a lack of it) by observing the decision-making process?
Some time ago I worked with this leadership team that was leading a complex change process. The team had a hard time in getting employees and management engaged. Resistance was high. The organization complained about the lack of clarity from the leadership team about what it wanted to accomplish with this change. The leadership team didn’t understand this, because they spent a lot of time and energy on communicating decisions and objectives to everybody. What was going wrong?
One of the elements that reveal leadership alignment (or a potential lack of it) during team meetings is the way decision-making is taking place. Pay special attention to the details.
Spotting (a lack of) alignment by zooming in on the decision-making process
How do we discuss issues?
- Do we spend enough time on understanding the root causes? Or do we jump to actions? Do we do this to maybe avoid sensitive topics?
- How sure are we that we have a common view on the problem? How do we check with each other? If we don’t, why not?
What decisions do we take?
- Are our decisions focused on filling action lists or on creating desired results? If we are action oriented, why? Is a result focus triggering difficult discussions we don’t like?
How well do we understand our decisions ourselves?
- What if I would summarize my understanding of what we decided? Would we all share the same interpretation? If not, why not?
- Do we all have the same understanding of the consequences of the decision? Do we check these things with each other? If we did, how would it impact our focus and communication as a team towards the organization?
Asking these questions during team meetings will help the team to spot potential areas of misalignment and will fundamentally change the quality of decisions. It will enable the team to be much more consistent and clear in its communication towards the organization.
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