When I was younger I used to ski quite regularly on the Scottish Cairngorms. Each morning I would check the weather, knowing that the slightest hint of a breeze down in the glen would mean that a gale would be blowing on the exposed mountaintop.
Executive alignment is pretty similar to the weather conditions in the Cairngorms. Tiny differences of opinion in the boardroom become huge divisions across the organisation. I call this The Cairngorms’ Rule.
Last week, for example, I was working with a client where two of the senior leaders had different ideas about the best way to drive sales. One of the executives wanted to focus on increasing the product range, while the other argued for lowering prices and increasing promotions. These differences were left unresolved.
Unfortunately, a lack of alignment can bring your organisation to a standstill. In this instance, it is likely to mean that the executives’ respective teams will be unable to make any material progress over the next couple of months in, jointly, finding a solution to the sales drive initiative.
One of your key jobs, as a leader of your organisation, is to surface, debate and resolve the critical differences between members of your team. Only then will you have created the conditions for real progress across your company.
This work requires genuine involvement of the key parties, time, patience and clarity about the conclusions. It’s not easy work, but it’s a lot easier than dealing with the consequences of non-alignment.
Believe me, it’s not much fun skiing in 50 mph winds.