A primary part of leading is aligning resources towards our agreed upon missional outcome. Because resources are limited and opportunity is seemingly unlimited, we must say ‘no’ to some things in order to align our limited resources to best opportunity to accomplish our mission. Below are some thoughts from Navigators staff, Paul Stanley on the important topic of alignment – part 2.
To illustrate alignment, let us look at it in several different contexts:
Alignment in a Team: Alignment would mean that the members of the team are functioning as a whole. Each member would share a common vision and the individual capacities of the members would be aligned with the vision to create what the members truly desired. The members would be motivated to develop their talents so that their contribution would be greater and increase the desired results . The members would learn to work together, and the more they did alignment would increase. When alignment breaks down, the efforts of the members are partially dispersed rather that harmonized. An unaligned team is like the scattered, incoherent light of a light bulb rather than the “coherent” light of a laser.
Peter Senge (The Fifth Discipline) observed that “…in an aligned team, there is commonality of purpose, a shared vision, and understanding of how to complement one another’s efforts. Individuals do not sacrifice their personal interests to the larger team vision; rather, the shared vision becomes an extension of their personal visions. In fact, alignment is the necessary condition before empowering the individual will empower the team.”
When in alignment, all four automobile tires are pointed in the exact same direction and provide a stable, consistent tide to the passengers. The tires complement one another’s’ performance. But, when the tires are not in alignment energy and rubber are lost and the ride is unstable.
Alignment in an Organization: Alignment would be achieved when the people within the organization, the ministries, the structures and systems and organizational processes are in line with the organization’s Vision, Calling and Values. Alignment would be recognized by the degree to which the organization’s Mission, Vision, and Values match the way the people who are part of the organization are living, relating, and ministering.
Gaining alignment in an organization is a leadership function. It is an ongoing task. Alignment is not to be confused with conformity, rather it is encouraging diversity but focusing and aligning it at the same time. Empowering individuals in an unaligned organization creates chaos, dissipates energy, and makes leading difficult, while the opposite is true in one that is well aligned. When we empowering part of an aligned organization we empower the whole.
Alignment is not a new concept for many leaders, but naming it helps us recognize whether we have it or not. In an unpredictable and rapidly changing environment in which we lead and minister, alignment becomes vital for keeping stability and maximizing our individual and group capacity for fulfilling our mission in a lost and struggling world.
Are you aligned?