|Business Management Information|
The Leadership Alignment Model
Some time ago we had the privilege of working with a major UK government department to help them redefine leadership and to reappraise how they develop and encourage leaders. Faced with considerable challenges by the environment in which they operate and by their political masters, this department has decided that leadership is one of the keys to the achievement of the vision laid down by its chief.
We consulted widely with senior managers, and we shared the output of extensive enquiry amongst the bulk of the population of over 20,000 people. We exposed the senior managers to different models of leadership; we helped them to envisage the type of leadership required in their particular context, and we provoked them to identify the strengths and shortfalls of their current leadership style. In a lengthy series of drafts and re-drafts we worded as precise a description of leadership as we could whilst trying to meet the needs of all interested parties. For all the effort that went into this description it is glaringly obvious that the value of the exercise six months, one year or two years further on has little to do with words.
Exercise ? creating consistency in leadership
This exercise is best suited to a top executive team. It will help them to present a consistent approach to leadership across their respective areas of the business. It is important, at the beginning, to clarify key organisational goals and strategy, and link these to an overarching purpose. For example, 'the goal is to increase market share by 10% whilst remaining competitive on price and availability of product'. The strategy by which we will achieve this will be to develop customer feedback and a quick response to their needs'. The overall purpose is to continually seek to deliver what people want, not what we think they want.'
The exercise consists of answering the following 4 questions:
1. What are you leading people away from and towards?
This question is about goals and the pursuit of a clear purpose.
2. What is going to help you to steer a course consistent with each other?
This question is about staying 'on message' from day to day.
3. Specifically who are you leading?
This question helps identify key people who need to be included in up-front communication and who will be relied upon to provide leadership for others and to design and deliver the strategy.
4. How will you demonstrate leadership to these people?
This question is about the behaviours that will best help people to keep on track with the goals and purpose.
Allow plenty of time for the team to answer the questions, say an hour for each, and challenge any high level generalisations such as, 'we will strive to be excellent role models' by asking, 'how specifically will you do that?'
At the end of the exercise everyone should be 100% clear about their role as a leader, and confident about being consistent with messages referring to goals, strategy and purpose. This exercise may throw up issues of inconsistency that may need to be addressed at a different meeting before doing this exercise again.
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