By Raj Chawla, based on information developed by Raj Chawla and Jolie Bain Pillsbury
The work of a leadership team is to produce measurable results for the populations they serve. However, producing results is a complex and difficult task and requires leaders to act in what we call “High Action and High Alignment.” Achieving this state of “High Action/High Alignment” takes a lot work and often requires leaders to adjust their personal approaches to a given problem. This article describes these approaches and how to shift toward “High Action/High Alignment.”
The first step towards “High Action/High Alignment” is for a group of leaders to collectively agree on the result they are working to achieve together. Then, each leader strives to make their contribution toward achieving that result. The best outcomes toward achieving the agreed-upon result come when leaders are in High Action and High Alignment in their work, but this is not always the case.
For example, a leader who is in “High Action/Low Alignment” works actively and independently toward the result, but is not interested in working collaboratively with others, sharing resources, or adapting strategies that others have found successful.
On the opposite side sits the “Low Action/High Alignment” leader. This leader is interested in building relationships and connections with peers and wants to support collaborative strategies, but often becomes so mired in collaboration or in building the “perfect plan” that he or she is slow to act or fails to act at all. This lack of action often alienates a high action individual who, in turn, may break away from the group to work alone.
A “Low Action/Low Alignment” leader observes what is going on without either acting or building relationships and is, in fact, a person who is not “leading” at all. This type of leader can come across as a “fence-sitter,” a behavior that often results in their exclusion from the process since it infuriates high action leaders and frustrates high alignment leaders.
What any work group or collaborative needs for optimal performance is high action and high alignment among all leaders on the team. These leaders can do both aspects of generating results: building strong relationships with others, including listening to their input, AND devising strong plans upon which they act.
If you find yourself in a group or on a leadership team that isn’t functioning well or achieving the results it has agreed to achieve, take an objective look at where you and other members fall in the “High Action/High Alignment” chart below. Your potential to achieve great things and the group’s desired results will increase to the extent that everyone moves toward higher action and higher alignment.
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