Why "Alignment" makes and breaks great Leaders
You should care about alignment asap.
What do I expect from any leader and product manager when I say their main responsibility is to "align"? Let’s map it out.
Being aligned in this sense is having a shared understanding of where we want to go and how.
Easier said than done and tricky because we assume we have alignment sooner than we do on any issue.
Another problem is that alignment becomes a differentiator (because it’s hard) in today’s market on whether you can build something that matters. Only when we’re all aligned can we pivot and abandon processes that don’t work anymore fast.
A typical OKR cycle is 3 months long. We have an impossible leadership challenge:
The looming recession market calls for long-term optimization to make safe investment bets on our company
The AI revolution pressures you to iterate fast and take fast bets which call for short-term innovation so you’re not overtaken by a market disruption
The last thing you need right now is to be misaligned to get this split under some form of control in your team:
Can we map out what leads to good Alignment?
My exact framework for alignment is split into 3 levels:
Some of these factors are harder to influence because they need soft skills to be present (great storytelling). In other cases lots of data and work (strategy)
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1st Level (Hard to influence)
Simple Strategy and Vision: Anything that can’t be retold fast and simply is failing no matter how well-researched it is. The difference between a great and an ok strategy can be a kickass, simple 1-pager of it.
Match of public image <> internal: If your PR does not look for employees on how you conduct yourself there’s a problem. It’s a root cause for misalignment because employees trust you less when you say anything. If you’re honest with customers you will be honest internally as well.
We get this done by making sure our 2nd level of behavior and knowledge are in place:
2nd Level (Medium)
Great Storytelling: Helps to tell anything in an engaging way. Great storytellers relate and create excitement for the most mundane things without sounding fake.
Thorough knowledge about your market: The better you know your market the more likely your predictions will hit.
Communicating often, repeat: Talk about the same thing often. Especially if you think everyone’s ears are already bleeding
Grow in front of your employees: We mess up, if you mess up publicly, apologize and then change your behavior you proved authenticity as a leader.
Experiment to learn, not to succeed: A great business case that never came to fruition should be equally celebrated if not more than just our successes. Not going somewhere, and preventing waste is sometimes better than just aiming for the next big thing.
We facilitate this knowledge and behavior by day to day level 3 actions:
3rd Level: (Easy, Day to day)
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