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How to Be an Effective Leadership Team: 4 Alignment Essentials

Powerful leadership teams engage in healthy debate, put group interests first, and speak one language—with one voice

The Profit Recipe sees many different challenges while working with leadership teams. Unfortunately, one of the most common is when a leadership team gets out of sync. A company develops silos, with each department leader focusing on accomplishing their goals and serving their team’s interests. Communication and collaboration break down, and a business has trouble hitting its goals—if it hits them at all.

“As goes the leader, so goes the organization” is a wise saying that we’d expand to “as goes the leadership team.” Even modestly sized businesses need a group of people who work together to achieve outsized results. 

Here are four crucial elements to getting everyone on the same page:

1. Put the Leadership Team—and the Company—First!

Silos and self-interest are understandable. The sales team leader has their goals and works hard to meet them, as do operations and marketing heads. But this results in competition for resources, whether time, money, or attention. In the worst cases, silos mean different departments working at cross-purposes on initiatives that are either beside the point or in direct conflict.

The tendency to silo may be natural, but it’s also destructive, and leaders must consciously fight the urge to do it. The antidote is a mindset: everyone understanding that we have to put the leadership team above our individual units. Instead of “I want my team to get this,” it becomes “what does the company need and deserve, and how can my team help accomplish it.”  

So, the first piece of the alignment puzzle is treating the leadership team as the first team and prioritizing the company’s needs over the department’s. Both excellent organizational and team outcomes flow from this paradigm. And while adopting this mindset may be straightforward, it requires deliberately stating the approach and everyone actually buying into it.

2. Speak the Same Language

As legions of psychologists, family therapists, and business coaches will tell you, the key to healthy relationships is good communication. The goal is achieving actionable understanding, which is impossible when individuals aren’t even speaking the same language. So, leadership team members must agree on the terms that enable alignment around goals. 

For example, what is a “lead?” And what is a “customer?” Mixing up such basic definitions can cause a surprising amount of chaos.

Say that the sales team defines a lead differently than marketing, only classifying it that way when it’s a qualified lead. And when a lead becomes a customer, operations refers to the new business that way, while finance and operations refer to them as “users” or “clients.” These simple word swaps create unnecessary complexity around something that should be very clear. 

We must speak the same language, so everyone knows exactly what it means. Many companies love their acronyms, and some have entire glossaries of unique terms they use to describe business components. Regardless of how complicated or simple the organizational language is, everyone must understand, speak, and agree to it!

3. Run Everything on One Business Operating System

A business operating system goes a long way toward clarifying terms, roles, responsibilities, processes, goals, and alignment. And The Profit Recipe certainly has our favorite one, of course. But there are several quality operating systems out there, many of which have slightly or entirely different terms and processes. And as we’ve cautioned before (and will do many times more), it’s vital to choose and comprehensively implement one system.

Many entrepreneurs expose themselves to various systems to learn how to run a business—and that’s a great idea. But once they decide on a system, they must implement it exclusively for the best results. If you don’t, the operations leader may be using elements of Scaling Up or the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) framework while the CEO is working through EOS—and these systems use different terminology and processes. For example, one individual can’t be talking about “Rocks” while someone else discusses “priorities” in a discussion about quarterly goals. 

If we all want to be one team, we must all be running one way. This includes but goes beyond the need to speak the same language, extending to operating in alignment—understanding our role, what the company needs to do, and exactly how we get together to do it.

4. Speak and Lead with One Voice

Aligned leadership teams aren’t teams where no one disagrees. Healthy conflict is important and even vital for solving problems and creating valuable initiatives. Thus, leaders should embrace much of this conflict while constructively solving significant issues and avoiding disagreements that stray into dysfunction.

Leadership teams can disagree and should debate different courses of action. But eventually, the team must arrive at a consensus to take action. And once that decision is made and the group leaves the meeting, everyone must speak and carry out those actions with one voice. 

Say that Elena, Franck, and Cesar have very different ideas about marketing The Profit Recipe this year. We state our opinions and hash things out, finally arriving at a decision. Anyone who still disagrees with or doubts the plan must put those opinions aside and execute it to the best of their ability. Crucially, they shouldn’t resent that their ideas didn’t win, followed by communicating in a way that undermines the plan.

“You know, I’m not sure this is going to work.”

“I really like my idea better, but nobody wants to listen to me.”

This attitude, especially when brought back to the leader’s department, can quickly become toxic. It creates cracks in company communication, engagement, and trust. Maybe the person with an urge to complain is right about their idea; perhaps it is better. Nevertheless, everyone must accept the consensus and energetically buy into and attempt the plan. 

If it works, great. If it doesn’t, that’s usually fine, too—a quality business operating system has mechanisms for redefining goals and initiatives, typically by the next quarter. 

But in the meantime, a leadership team must have each other’s back. And members must all speak and execute with one voice. 

Prioritize and come together as a leadership team

A company’s leadership team is the perfect example of something that is far greater than the sum of its parts. Individuals who work together while expressing their strengths, shoring up each other’s weaknesses, and distributing responsibilities unleash exponential performance. But every individual must check their ego and narrow departmental goals to put the leadership team and company first. 

By all means, disagree with each other. Propose alternative solutions that will propel the business forward. But work to achieve consensus, always speak the same language, use the same operating system, and devise solutions within that framework that prioritize organizational goals.

Then, act as one. Respect each other. And always have each other’s back, especially when rolling out an action plan to the rest of the employees. Remember that you are stronger together—and so is the company.

Empower your Leadership Team and improve efficiency, increase value, and foster collaboration to get better results. A professional Facilitator can ensure that all of your members are on the same page, so you can kick your business up a notch. Connect with The Profit Recipe to Achieve Traction.