#015: How Leaders Can Create Alignment [Podcast]

In this podcast episode, I talk about how leaders can create alignment in teams. This is a crucial leadership skill. Without it, your organization cannot achieve its full potential.

This Is Your Life, Episode #015

It doesn’t matter if the context of your leadership is your family, small business, a large corporation, a network of free-lancers or volunteers, or a church, the more aligned your team is, the more likely you will produce the outcomes you are after.

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Episode Outline

As a leader, you create alignment in your team by practicing three key DISCIPLINES.

  1. Discipline #1: The Discipline of Contact. You cannot keep your team aligned unless you have frequent contact with them. They are going to do the best with what you give them. If you don’t spend time with them, it is inevitable that they are going to make decisions you are uncomfortable with. It is your responsibility to initiate this contact. You can do this through regular one-on-one meetings, staff meetings, and by just walking around.
  2. Discipline #2: The Discipline of Communication. Contact is not enough. You have to communicate. Your people cannot read your mind. They need to know what you expect. They need to understand the mission and the vision. You need to verbalize it. Over and over again. In addition, if you don’t like something, you need to speak up—before you get into a high stakes situation where dialog is happening in real time.
  3. Discipline #3: The Discipline of Connection. Communication is not even enough. For true alignment to take place, your people have to know and trust your heart. They have to be committed to your success and the success of the team. You may be tempted to think that you are entitled to this by virtue of employing them. You’re not.You can buy their presence, but you can’t buy their heart. You must earn it. You can only create a connection—and thus alignment—when you open your heart and let them in.

Alignment is critical if you want to get the right things done and move your organization forward in the most effective and efficient way possible. However, it won’t happen on it’s own. As a leader, you must take the initiative to create it.

Listener Questions

  1. Question #1: Nick Cook asked, “What are some of the ways you had to change as a young leader in order to create alignment?”
  2. Question #2: Lawrence Wilson asked, “How do you create alignment among team members you inherited from a previous leader who are still loyal to that leader?”
  3. Question #3: Stephen Robles asked, “How can I get my teammates to align with my leader’s vision?”
  4. Question #4: Nathan Martin asked, “What do you do to foster alignment among virtual workers that are spread out geographically.”

Special Announcements

  1. My new book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World if officially a bestseller. It hit all four major bestseller lists this past week: Amazon, New York Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. To celebrate, I am making a very special offer available for my listeners who haven’t yet bought the book. The offer is worth $110.97, and it’s free when you buy the book. BUT you have to listen to the podcast to get the details.
  2. I will be speaking at the BlogWorld & New Media Expo in New York City tomorrow (June 7). I will be leading one of the “Super Sessions” at 9:00 a.m. if you happen to be attending. I will be speaking on the subject of Platform with an emphasis on what I am learning by producing my new podcast.
  3. If you are interested in having me speak at your

  4. I will also be speaking at the Shelby International Conference (June 14, 2012) and the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference (September 21, 2012). I will be speaking at a number of private corporate events in between. If you are interested in having me speak at your event, please visit my Speaking page.

Episode Resources

In the episode I mentioned Gap International’s “Alignment Intensive” Seminar. I highly recommend attending. It is not cheap but worth every cent.

Show Transcript

You can download a transcript of this episode here.

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Question: Is your team aligned? What can you do today to create more alignment? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    I’m looking forward to listening to this one.  We’re doing some realignment in our department over the next month or two, and these tips will be helpful in approaching my newly defined team.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Great. I hope you enjoy it.

  • BillintheBlank

    Also looking forward it. Already downloaded on Downcast.

    Speaking of Platform, I set up a Twitter handle @Jun23MaxwellWPB to help people connect prior to the event — sort of like a hashtag. Seth Godin used this for his event and it worked well. Any chance you could check with Maxwell’s team to be sure they don’t mind?

    Not trying to cause problems, just create community to get more from the experience.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I will pass this along to them. Do you think it’s too long? As you know, with Twitter, every character counts. I would suggest @MaxwellADAB (A Day About Books). Thanks.

      • BillintheBlank

        Good point. I’ll wait for any word then adjust.
        Thanks.

  • http://www.thegeezergadgetguy.com/ Thad Puckett

    In the “Discipline of Connection” section you said: “They have to be committed to your success and the success of the team.”

    I think it is also important for the team to know that you are committed to their success, as a team, and as individuals.  For true success, the deeper the commitment to one another better (in both directions) the better.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Agreed. Good point.

  • http://www.michaelnichols.org/about Michael Nichols

    Great topic – and much needed. Looking forward to listening.

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com/ Patricia Zell

    Excellent information, Michael. Right now, I am re-evaluating how I interact with my students because I had far too many poor grades this year from capable students who didn’t want to do the necessary work to master the curriculum. I need to change first before my students can change. I think my problems lie in what I am communicating–of course, I have daily contact with them, and I believe they understand my heart. I have been tending more towards nagging/lecturing them and then being too lenient with them. So, to make a long story short, I am tightening the rules and giving them the opportunity to think things through for themselves. In this podcast, you have given me a lot to think about. Thanks! 

  • Peter Brookshaw

    Stumbled by your site the other day and am loving it! Am enjoying the podcast on alignment too. Thanks for the personal leadership momentum you’re giving me!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Glad you found Michael’s site Peter! You’ll see tremendous growth if you continue to follow the strategies he lays out.

      What have you enjoyed most from your time here?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Peter. Welcome! I appreciate your comment.

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    We have a lot of change in our organization right now, and enjoyed hearing your two separate perspectives – leaders and team members.  I’m a team member, although I believe you are a leader in whatever position you find yourself.  Enjoyed the tips you put in the podcast as well as fielding questions.  Great addition to the session!

  • http://twitter.com/jakesledge Jake Sledge

    If leaders should communicate vision the way you described (and referenced Andy Stanley), what about when seeing the outcome of that vision takes a long time, maybe years? How do you keep from having followers/team think it’s not really going to happen, lose motivation and begin to doubt it will ever happen?

    Thanks!!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Jake, I would break it down into smaller milestones. Give the team smaller pieces of the vision so they can see the buildup and success as they approach the larger vision.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You have to create smaller wins a long the way, so the team gets a sense of momentum. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/JoshuaWRivers Joshua Rivers

    Very good post/podcast! And congratulations on making the bestsellers lists! While listening to this episode, I had a visual aid in my mind. I have working in the box-making industry since 2001, and I have been working on the machine that turns the rolls of paper into corrugated boxes. The typical box has three main parts (there’s more, but not necessary for this example): two outside liners and the middle, corrugated part. Each of these parts can be over 50 feet apart and they have to be aligned, otherwise the product could be compromised or the paper could even get jammed up in the machine. There are many factors, so the alignment must constantly be checked to make sure things are going the way they should be.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    I listened to your podcast on my commute this morning. Very helpful for anyone in a leadership position. In your example about your bosses boss, getting angry at the outcome, is there anything you could have done to open the communication? If you are not sure you are getting alignment with the top, and communication channels are not open, how do you proceed?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Great question, John. I should have requested a meeting with my boss AND my boss’s boss. At the very least, I would have had a personal connection going into the meeting. Thanks.

  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    Another great podcast, it’s nice to listen while I work. I was excited to see my publisher was question #4 :)

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      You’ve probably got the automobile university down to a science with the time you spend in a vehicle! That’s awesome your publisher got his question answered. Might have to go back and listen to it once again just to pay attention.

      • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

        I do have some drive time to listen!

  • http://theradicaljourney.com/ Nick

    I love the ideas you put forth here, Michael – they relate well to the first section of “Platform”, where you talk about having a “stubborn” vision. Some practical things I know I need to do truly communicate are:

    1.) Tell more success stories.

    2.) Preach a vision, not a method.

    3.) Articulate my vision in a short, snappy sentence.

    4.) Be more intentional about meeting with my influencers and vision casting.

    5.) Cast a vision for every individual, because everyone has potential!

    Thanks,
    Nick

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Great summary, Nick!

  • Eileen Strider

    I just listened to your podcast. It was great. I especially liked your answer to the question about how to align with a team that is very loyal to a past leader. Your point about respecting the past leader and past vision was a very congruent way to connection with the team. It doesn’t have to be an “either/or world”; it can be an  “and” world.
    I haven’t listened to any of your other podcast or read your book (yet). Do you address the importance of listening to your team member (two-way communication)?

  • Malenki

    My parents and I were just discussing a similar topic to this post … How would you go about establishing repore with employees who saw your position of authority as their enemy, as opposed to you as a person?

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      That’s a great question.  When I’ve seen this before, they employee had a past leader who separated the “person” from the “position” and had lower ethical standards for the position.  Obviously, authentic leadership requires having the same standards as a leader and a person.  

      I would start by having a heart-to-heart with the employee to ask why they think the position is the enemy and then use the same methods of contact, communication, and connection to grow the relationship.

      If the employee just has a problem with any type of authority and is not willing to develop a good working relationship, it will almost certainly have a negative influence on the team.  In which case, it may be time to let them go if they are unwilling to work on it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Get to know them as a person. Be authentic. Share your life. Be with them. Relationship comes before position. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Julie-Swihart/100003908965783 Julie Swihart

    Thanks for this helpful post! I’ve seen first-hand the value of connection, and how team-members who trust and respect their leader will follow well. Demonstrating personally the qualities you look for in team-members, and being transparent are key.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Great to hear you were able to snag some take-aways from the podcast. You’re spot on with connection. It’s an important thing to have with your team members.

      Any suggestions on creating a stronger connection?

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Great podcast Michael. Really enjoyed hearing how to get teams into alignment and why it is so important.

    There are many times when I feel the staff for our youth group are on
    different pages. One sect wants this, the other wants that. They clash
    and create a lot of stress.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That’s why they need a leader! Seriously, when you see this, you have to ask, “What is it about my leadership that is creating this?” As John Maxwell says, “everything rises or falls on leadership.” Thanks, Joe.

  • http://dalemelchin.wordpress.com/ Dale Melchin

    I loved this post.  I’m in a situation where there is one particularly vocal member of my team who every chance he gets causes problems for the team manager mainly because he abhors the company and sees our boss as the embodiment of corporate, while everyone else along with myself gets along with her.

    Because the company is such a huge corporation, and we have a union firing someone is a big ordeal.

    The individual is more or less mentally checked out.  He does the minimum of his job to keep from getting fired.  Is just me, or am I being too pessimistic in saying there is little hope that my boss will get them into alignment?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I think it’s possible, but your boss would have to accept responsibility for it, then do a lot of work to make it happen. It really has to do with the three disciplines I mentioned in the podcast. Thanks.

  • Hajjarmo

    Michael,

    In my opinion, the first stepping stone in creating alignment is for a leader to determine a grand purpose and direct everything else to it. There are times, when a leader should not go with consensus or with the majority, since he is able to see beyondd what others are able to see.

    So in order to create alignment, he must connect his communication and decisions and whatever that he does to a hire purpose and that’s how he could get people committed and aligned for a purpose.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I agree. In my opinion, consensus really has to do with agreement rather than alignment. Agreement is optional. Alignment is not. As a leader, you can’t always get agreement, but you should always strive for alignment. Thanks.

  • BillintheBlank

    Michael,

    Just finished listening to your podcast. Thanks for the authentic sharing of your previous challenges. Here’s my question:

    What if you are the quarterback on the field with the team in front of the fans. You have a significant role to direct the entire course of at least half the team, maybe more. In short, without you, the team cannot score. But you’re not the coach who calls the plays. The clock is winding down. The team is in the huddle awaiting the call, but the call does not come in from the coach. Furthermore, you don’t see the coach on the sidelines. You’re not really sure he’s even at the game although you think he might be talking to the placekicker somewhere near the locker room entrance. You know you will be held responsible for what happens next.

    If you run to the sideline to look for the call and the coach, you risk embarrassing the coach. If you make the audible call and get it wrong, you’ll likely hear about it from the coach who will not be silent then. How do you get alignment when you are not THE leader ultimately responsible to ensure alignment is taking place for the entire team?

    In short, if you knew then what you know now, how would you have handled the scenario you gave in the podcast differently?

    Many thanks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      First, it’s difficult to answer a theoretical case, but I would be brave, make the call, and face the consequences. I think I answered your last question somewhere else in this thread, but I would have request a meeting with the Big Boss before the meeting. But part of it’s learning. Neither I nor my boss thought it would be an issue.

      • BillintheBlank

        That’s what I suspected. The whole brave part threw me. Any word from Maxwell’s team on the Twitter handle? I know you’re very busy now so not a big deal.

  • Patricia Gonzalez

    This stuff on ‘allignment’ is so informative. Thank you Michael.

  • Michael Holmes

    Exemplary post. I totally agree that it is the quality both the corporate and the family leaders need to possess. Powerful!

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  • http://BrentFielder.com Brent Fielder

    Mike, I listed  to this as I ran this morning and it gave me some great conviction for how I need to lead my team and continue to cast vision.  As a really young leader with a very small (but mighty) team, I have to be the one to champion this and not assume they all know the why and the vision at all times.  

    Thanks for the encouragement and coaching.

  • http://twitter.com/TheHartsOffice Harts Office

    I love your podcast, it gives me more inspirational content when I run out of Dan Miller and Dave Ramsey stuff.

    Something I would really like to hear in a podcast is some expansion on “Baking in the WOW” or probably better yet “Start with WOW” I have been doing software coaching on the side and discovered I really like it, I want to do it full time, built a website and starting to get more aggressive on building my platform, but my coaching has usually been one on one and if I want to get serious I have to teach groups, do I build a regid curriculum and have well planned out powerpoints, do I just turn on the computer and show them what they want to see?  

    You can see the courses I offer at http://hartsoffice.com/page_coaching.php, I have gotten suggestions to have a small picture relating to the course next to each course and multiple suggestion to make packages.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated! 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That’s a great topic idea and something I am passionate about. I will take a look at doing it.

  • http://christopherbattles.net/ Christopher Battles

    Thank you Michael. This message of communication needs to be taught from every every mountain and passed down to every level until the people who who are digging under the mountain know the importance.
    Thank you for doing your part.

    K, bye

  • http://www.learnphotographybooks.com/ robert

    Just found your podcast about a week ago and just finished this episode. Is the special offer over – I missed it by a couple of hours :-(

    Thanks for all the great advice!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I’m afraid so. Sorry.

      • http://www.learnphotographybooks.com/ robert

        No problem! Worth asking … At least now I’m caught up!

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  • Bobby Dee

    What I’ve heard about helping leaders with alignment and their members is utilizing technology to help retain visitors and manage new members. We use http://www.webchurchconnect.com as a Church Management Software to help with manage our members and new visitors.