Here’s Why Your Executive Team Isn’t Strategically Aligned (And How to Fix It)

Lack of strategic alignment is one of the main causes of business failure.

When the connection between your business objective (what you hope to achieve) and your business strategy (how to get there) is confusing, weak, or nonexistent, people tend to lose sight of why they are in business in the first place. Misalignment leads to your working environment becoming chaotic and messy, and you start to face new problems every day. It is vital, therefore, to make sure that your business has a strategic-alignment model in place to clarify how goals will be achieved.

Three Axes of Alignment

In order to stay competitive, a business must be strategically aligned. Alignment happens on three axes:
  1. Executive staff. They are usually the main decision-makers and in effect, the role models of the organization.
  2. Subordinate staff. They are usually the face of the company, as they are in constant contact with your customers.
  3. Customers. All business models should be designed with the customer in mind.

Failing to achieve alignment in one of the three categories above indicates an underlying problem, and addressing that problem will be the key to achieving strategic alignment.

Alignment with Executive Staff

When you are out of alignment with your executive staff, it’s an indication that there is a problem with your business strategy. Your strategic plan points out your long-term goals and acts like a map to tell you how to get there. When you encounter problems with your business strategy, you should start asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is everybody’s role clearly defined?
  • Does everybody know the direction we’re heading?
  • Does the staff understand the business’ purpose?
  • Does everybody have the competencies needed to fulfill their roles effectively?
  • Is the executive team functioning as a high-performance team?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you need to start making some changes.

Your business strategy should be crystal clear to ensure that everybody is on the same page. Uncertainty can be deadly. It’s crucial that everybody understands their role in the organization and how they contribute to achieving the organization’s purpose.

If everybody is heading in the right direction through team alignment, your business strategy will be more effective and more powerful. Also, by understanding the role they play in achieving business goals, employees will feel more motivated to help the organization get there.

Alignment with Employees

When you’re out of alignment with your employees, the problem lies with your company culture. Every company has a culture and a vision of how things are done and how decisions are made. This culture is what makes the company unique, helping it to stand out from its competitors.

The leaders of the company should role model desired behaviors and values. These values and behaviors should be visible in all business relationships and practiced by all colleagues and stakeholders. Your company’s culture is its personality, what it shows to the world.

Consider these benefits of a strong company culture:

  • Makes sure your business purpose remains aligned with your strategy
  • Forges important ties between colleagues, the company and its employees, and the company and its customers
  • Ensures team alignment and business alignment
  • Ensures the company’s mission is understood and embraced by all

The assumptions and beliefs of an organization’s employees are the drivers of their behavior. A strong company culture with the following components can help to shape employees’ assumptions and beliefs:

  • Respect among colleagues at all levels
  • Solid communication at all levels of the organization
  • Working as a team, not as individuals
  • Promoting an innovation mindset throughout the organization

Alignment with Customers

When you are out of alignment with your customers, you are probably experiencing issues with your business purpose. If your customers are no longer satisfied or their needs are no longer being met by your products or services, the problem likely stems from one of two areas:

  1. The business purpose is out of alignment with customer needs.
  2. The executive staff is out of alignment with the business purpose.
    Review your business purpose by asking yourself the questions below:
  • What is your objective?
  • Why are you in business in the first place?
  • Have your employees or managers lost focus?
  • Have monetary benefits clouded your decision-making process?
  • Have shareholder needs gotten in the way of your customers’ needs?
  • Does your company’s purpose actually meet your customer’s needs?
  • Is it time to rethink your purpose, or to rethink your target market?

Customers’ needs and demands are constantly changing, and the fast-paced world that we live in has dramatically changed the dynamics of managing customer relationships. It’s imperative that you constantly gauge your customer’s needs and wants. Innovation and change are good things—just be careful to keep them aligned with your strategy. A proper focus on benefiting your customers will give the team a unity in purpose and will improve customer loyalty.

The Value of Alignment

As you can see, strategic misalignment is detrimental to a company’s success.
  • Be sure your organization’s purpose is consistently aligned with its strategy.
  • Be sure you’re aligned on all three levels:
    • Executive staff
    • Employees
    • Customers

Aligning all three axes means that your business strategy is in tune with your company’s mission, your company culture is built on shared values, and your business purpose is aligned with your customer’s needs.

The three levels work in coordination with each other and can have either a positive or negative effect on one another. However, the executive team is the core of the company; if they are out of alignment, the whole company will struggle to do the job right. Therefore, having a clear purpose, with the right tools and correct path to get there, will help you maintain business alignment and ensure success. A strong strategic-alignment model will make all the difference, and investing time, resources, and consideration in this task is definitely worth your while.

Starting Your Leadership Team Alignment Journey

Are you ready to experience the benefits of executive-team alignment?

Over the past 40 years, CMOE has worked with a wide variety of leadership teams to help them become more operationally effective. This is achieved by developing the right tools and skills necessary to overcome challenges, drive organizational change, capture new business opportunities—and maintain these gains over the long term.

The Leadership Team Alignment Journey is a proven approach for enhancing the effectiveness of your leadership team and achieving better results. A few key benefits include the following:

  • New Solutions: Supporting the process of identifying new solutions to combat operational and strategic challenges and enhancing executive-team collaboration around these issues.
  • Increased Momentum: Promoting the drive necessary to execute important changes and initiatives within your business.
  • Collaboration & Growth: Encouraging increased communication, the exchange of ideas, and the ability to learn and grow in order to realize new levels of success.
  • Strategic Vision Alignment: Providing a mechanism for establishing strategic initiatives that align with and support the overarching vision of the business.

CMOE’s Leadership Team Alignment Journey helps businesses achieve extraordinary results by

  • Identifying high-priority improvements for better results.
  • Creating greater synergy in solving the issues that hinder productivity, efficiency, and strategic change.
  • Developing and enhancing the competencies of the individuals who make up your executive team to enable them to drive change, think and act more strategically, and ultimately make the organization more competitive.

Get started on the path to executive-team alignment today when you take advantage of our Free Team Evaluation.

About the Author

CMOE Team

CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.