In past blog posts we have talked about vision and the White Board Exercise. The next leadership step following establishing a vision (whether it be a corporate vision or a department vision) is establishing alignment.
The concept of alignment is simple: gain buy-in from all stakeholders, up, down, and sideways. The process of gaining alignment is much more complex. If the vision to be promoted is yours, you already have a certain amount of personal energy committed to the vision. You can already “see” the end. You already “see” the benefits of the vision fulfilled, and it is often too clear for you. I say too clear, because since it is so clear for you, it might be difficult for you to understand just how unclear it might be for some stakeholders.
Gaining alignment requires not only clear, but continuous communication, cascading communication, to keep everyone focused on this vision that is so clear for you.
I have never spoken with a corporate leader that feels as though they have over-communicated a vision. I have talked with many that realize, in retrospect, that they have under-communicated.
Establish your vision. Build a story around it that will help all of your stakeholders “see” what you are seeing. If necessary, craft different versions of the story for different stakeholders. Then tell your story over and over and over. Audibly, pictorially, behaviorally.
Finally, take the time to have some stakeholders tell the story back to you. This will ensure that they are seeing the same picture that you are.