One of the dilemmas of leadership is the fact that one may feel they are leading and pause and look and no one is following. If you are leading and “they” are not following you have a problem. One thing that often happens is the there is a gap between what we say and the way we do things. Especially without making sure our words and actions correspond to our mission and vision.
How do we make sure we have alignment in our organizations? Here are a few things to check:
- What is the why? The why must drive what we do. Often times I hear grandiose mission and vision statements. Disregarding the statement everyone continues to do what they have always done. There seems to not be much thought as to how everything fits in with what we believe and our overall purpose. You must not only know you’re why but it must also become the impetus for our speech, action, and priorities.
- Do we have a shared vision? This is where alignment comes into play. If everyone does not understand and buy into the vision/mission we develop compartments or silos, where we do our own thing with no consideration of the vision. This leads to working against each other and building separate ‘visions’ rather than sharing the overall vision. It reminds me of driving a car. An automobile runs smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in alignment. When they are out of alignment eventually there will be problems and ultimately a breakdown. It is the leader’s responsibility to correct this situation.
- Make sure everything passes through the vision/mission. I have been places where nearly everyone can recite the mission statement. A good job was done making sure that everyone knew the vision/mission. On closer look, not every aspect of the organization has incorporated the vision. For instance, allow me to give you an exercise: Would I be able to discover your vision by observing the following: Budget? Does the budget reflect the vision? The programing? The projects? The speeches? The schedules? If you are going to be vision/mission-driven then everything must demonstrate that we are all on a mission.
- Strategy. Strategy alignment comes before execution alignment. Have you given enough time to develop strategies that will enable you to accomplish your mission? This is where it essential to get buy-in from the people of the organization. Has a plan or strategy been devised that can help us accomplish our vision/mission?
- Accountability. If we understand the mission then we have to hold ourselves and others accountable. The lack of accountability is nearly epidemic in most places. Plans and procedures are put in place and then seemingly quickly forgotten. If the vision and mission are worthy of our best thoughts then we need to hold ourselves responsible for the results.
- Follow-through. Execution is essential. After all, is said and done, often much more is said than is ever done! There comes a place where our speeches have to be translated into action. The best strategy and plans are meaningless if we do not execute!
- Inspecting the process along the way. There will be times when plans have to be revised and tweaked. Mid-course corrections are essential. Rarely, if ever does something go from the drawing board to completion without adjustments along the way. Leaders must be on the lookout for challenges and changes that are necessary to keep everything moving toward the destination of the mission. It is therefore essential that a leader stay engaged throughout the entire process. Your organization will not run smoothly on auto-pilot.
Leader, you are doing better than you think you are, you really are making a difference. Consider where you are in your work and decide to be the leader that God created you to be.