Misalignment: Changing Course

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“Effective leaders understand that alignment is not something to check off a to-do list.  Alignment is a dynamic, ongoing process that requires continual monitoring and realigning as conditions and needs change.”  -via ‘The Work of Leaders: How Vision, Alignment and Execution Will Change The Way You Lead’

It can be incredibly frustrating when your vehicle is not working properly.  It can turn the everyday task of driving into a frustratingly irritating endeavor.  The worry, the cost, and the time it requires to tend to repairs can take its toll on our already over-taxed schedules.  But failure to attend to the matter will usually leave you with much bigger problems to deal with down the road.

Even something as simple as the alignment can wreak havoc upon the driving experience.  Just consider the many issues associated with misalignment;

  • A crooked steering wheel
  • Veering to one side or the other
  • Vibration in the steering column
  • Uneven and heavy wear on the tires

Now consider not only how those issues can be corrected with a simple alignment, but how it adds to the life of the vehicle and the driving experience.  Such a simple fix as an alignment can improve handling, reduce wear and tear on the steering column as well as the tires.  It can aid in maintaining a fixed direction without constant attention that is required from a crooked steering wheel.  Let alone the savings and improvement in the overall gas mileage of the vehicle.

When your vehicle is misaligned, you not only notice it as the driver, those driving behind you can directly see that there is something visibly wrong with the vehicle.  They can see how the tires and the body of the car fail to align and work cooperatively with each other and the road.

Which is why alignment is so important.  According to How Stuff Works…”A car alignment is actually an elaborate process that brings the car’s suspension into its proper configuration, positioning and adjusting so that wheels are aligned with one another and the road surface.” For which they add, “An alignment essentially requires squaring a car’s wheels and axles with each other so that they’re moving in the same direction.”

Think about just how truly critical that is?  Aligning the wheels and axles so that they’re all moving in the same direction.  How vital that is to the driving experience and the overall life and longevity of your vehicle.

Now think about our organizations.  Think about how many of our organizations are dealing with these same ongoing issues of misalignments; in their structures, their processes, and even their visions of where they think they’re headed.

Think of how many organizations and those within are not only not driving in the same direction, but the amount of mental and physical wear it is taking on their organizations, their people and their leadership.  Think of how much extra work it is taking to just keep the organization on the road.  The wear, tear and toll it takes to just keep the organization from veering to one side or the other.  Or the constant vibration that arises from the frustration caused by these issues of misalignment.

According to Straw and Davis in ‘The Work of Leaders’“Our research shows that more than half of leaders report little or no training or guidance in the practice of creating alignment.  In fact, only 47 percent report having a clear understanding of what ‘building alignment’ even means in the context of leadership.”

So not only do we deal with issues of alignment or misalignment, we struggle to determine what it actually looks like, what it sounds like, and even how we begin to go about creating it.  Until we become better at creating clarity and understanding of where we are driving and the destination we are heading towards, alignment will remain an enigma that we struggle to attain, let alone maintain.

Whether a car or an organization, alignment is not a one time endeavor, it takes ongoing, daily attention.  Bumps, potholes, curbs and other obstacles will continue to wreak havoc upon that alignment, how we attend to it will determine how well or quickly our vehicle delivers us to our destination.

“When both rational and emotional needs are met, when leaders reach the head and heart, true alignment goes beyond enthusiasm, beyond agreement, beyond understanding goals.”  -via ‘The Work of Leaders 


One thought on “Misalignment: Changing Course

  1. Another thought provoking post, David. Just as a mechanic will link to their computer system to analyze information as they are bring alignment to a vehicle, leaders of an organization must have systems of dialogue in place to do the same work. Bringing clarity to the overall mission, vision, values and goals of the organization is quite difficult if those systems of communication are not in place. All too often, the communication is insufficient, resulting in members of the organization meandering down the road of their work without the needed clarity to lead their teams. In the end, this results in the misalignment that we often see.

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