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Aligning Your Team Begins With…

“One of the most important things we do as leaders is to help align teams around attaining a strategic goal or goals. Lots of leaders struggle with this, mostly because they are opaque about what is in their head, hoping the team figures it out. The best approach is to get explicit about where you want to go and give the team a chance to buy in and really own the goals.”

So begins an excellent article by Jim Schleckser in Inc. Magazine about how leaders can align their teams. And his first point? GET CLARITY.

Alas, the vast majority of our fellow teammates are not mind-readers (HR put the kibosh on that requirement!), so it is incumbent upon leaders to clearly, succinctly, and memorably explain the purpose and goals of the department. Often.

Here’s an exercise for you, as a department leader. Can each of your team members quickly explain the three primary ways your department adds business value to the overall organization (purpose)? Can they articulate how their goals, the department’s goals, and the company’s goals align (direction)?

Is these short-hand clarity statements written down anywhere, and reinforced regularly?

I’m guessing that in the vast majority of teams/departments, there is not a clearly-articulated and readily-embraced set of core principles that guide the members in an aligned direction. Life is busy. People move in and out. We get lost in the day-to-day tactical weeds.

But it is possible to set the GPS with clarity. What could be more crucial?

Recently, I facilitated a clarity session with 25 leaders of a Global function for a major biopharma company, and our goal was to hammer out a clear set of principles and business value statements that would differentiate the teams in the overall organization, and align the department(s) in every country. Now, in one clear and succinct slide, there is a GPS/roadmap to guide every current (and future) member of these teams in explaining why this function deserves a seat at the strategic table.

When arriving at organizational clarity statements, the relief is in the room is often palpable. Now we know where we’re going. And why. And how to explain it to other stakeholders (in plain language, not foggy jargon). It’s a form of internal branding.

If one of your goals for the coming year is gaining greater clarity of purpose and alignment, reach out to me ( and let’s have a talk. I wrote the book on clarity – this is my specialty!

For a great little snippet on why department/team branding is so vital, see this enlightening little video from Donald Miller of Storybrand!

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