Leaders often struggle to reach a good, a better, or even a best solution to countless such questions. More important than the right answer, though, is all team members having the same answer.
Once all team members are aligned on one answer, even a not very good one, on any matter, odds are that performance will improve because everyone pulls in the same direction. The result is a multiplier effect suggested by the three arrows forming a much larger fourth arrow in the above graphic .
An aligned team of top players all pulling in the same direction has enormous potential and capacity to accomplish their goals. Together they will iterate to better and best answers, while also performing well, along the way.
To test for, and to achieve, alignment the best leaders:
- Invite each team member to make explicit (anonymously if desired) whose problem they believe the organization solves, what is most important to change next, who to count on for what, and any number of other important day-to-day matters.
- Consolidate and report back to the team what has been put forward, without attribution.
- Lead the team in a group discussion to arrive at a common understanding.
The leader only makes a decision when top team alignment does not occur because the group is unable to reach consensus. With practice, a good leader finds s/he almost never has to make a unitary decision.
The process outlined allows the leader to tap into and benefit from everyone’s thinking and for team members to each be heard and to make explicit what is otherwise left unsaid. The result turns hesitation, uncertainty, and speculation into engagement, commitment, and alignment. All of which contribute to peak performance.