Corporate Strategy Lives and Dies by Leadership Alignment. Here’s Why.

November 7, 2018

If you’ve read HighPoint’s previous blog, The Case for Limiting Strategic Imperatives, you’ll understand the importance of distilling competing strategic priorities down to those top 3-5 key imperatives that will future-proof a business and enable the achievement of its goals. But before implementation of those priorities can begin, an executive team must attain rapid alignment around those down-selected imperatives.

Why is leadership alignment vital?

A leadership team that feigns alignment during its down-select meetings makes two central errors: First, an inability to effectively disagree and sharpen one another’s prioritization robs the imperatives of the healthy debate that pinpoints and refines the best answers. HPA experience suggests executives who perceive greater debate and decisiveness in a strategic plan effort will more effectively align around the down-selected choices. Iron sharpens iron. After beneficial sharpening, leaders can follow the ‘disagree-and-commit’ principle of moving forward, fully bought into the decisions. Second, a lack of genuine commitment to the top 3-5 key imperatives translates into re-definition of those imperatives outside of the Board Room, with ensuing confusion among the next level of leadership. How can senior leaders sell in change and motivate buy-in and execution throughout the organization if they have not successfully done so among themselves?

In a recent Harvard Business Review article by Jonathan Trevor, Associate Professor of Management Practice at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, Trevor states “The best performing companies are often the best aligned.” He goes on to say, “All too often, individual leaders seek—indeed are incentivized—to protect and optimize their own domains, and find themselves locked in energy-sapping internal turf wars, rather than working with peers to align and improve across the entire enterprise.” HPA change management efforts have seen multiple levers for corporate alignment, including rotation among senior executives to break through territorial ownership, a recognition among those senior executives that their #1 team is their leadership core rather than their own reporting groups, as well as positioning the highest-potential mid-levels within an organization to carry the change message forward. Whichever alignment levers are employed, HPA rarely sees successful execution of strategic imperatives when leadership team alignment is not first realized.

Achieve greater, sustainable profitability with HighPoint Associates.

Our team of practical strategists with insider credentials brings clarity to strategic imperatives and rapid leadership alignment to drive results. How? We’ve been on those internal management teams and we’ve learned how to establish priorities and guide decision alignment. If your company is embarking on a corporate, business unit, or go-to-market strategy, our expert consultants will partner with your executive team to assure success. Contact HighPoint to start the conversation.