In real life strategy is actually very straight forward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell
— Jack Welch

THE behaviours of strategic alignment (12)

Strategy, at its simplest, can be seen as a collection of key choices and corresponding manoeuvres that an organisation (or department, team or individual) intends to take in pursuit of its vision, goals and objectives. Further, strategy describes the moves an organisation will take in order to achieve its desired future state and takes into account the expectations of the organisations key stakeholders (customers/clients, employees, shareholders etc). 

The best organisations usually write their strategies down in an 'strategic plan' which covers the broad areas of activity that the organisation will pursue/not pursue. Strategy, however, is not planning. Planning is merely a part of the strategic process. Many organisations have a strategic plan, very few are effective at executing strategy and one of the key drivers of strategic execution is leadership. 

There are 12 behaviours that make up the Strategic Alignment capability. Some of those are outlined below. 

strategic alignment behaviors include:

Develops and deploys long and short-range goals consistent with strategy

This behaviour refers to a participant's tendency to align short and long term goals with the organisations strategy in a way that makes sense to peers, direct reports and managers. Goal setting in alignment to strategy is a key step in strategic execution. This capability enables you to measure and manage this behaviour (see sample below). 

This sample result could highlight the participant: 

  • Has effectively communicated the relationship between goals and strategy 
  • Has failed to align goals with overall strategy
  • Has been focusing his/her efforts in the wrong direction

Effectively uses metrics and milestones to hold people accountable

It is interesting to note that organisational strategy changes frequently, yet KPI's that drive organisations can remain constant for years. For example, sales KPI's remain "revenue and conversion" while company strategy moves to initiatives like creating better customer experience and  greater loyalty (neither driven purely by sales).  

Critical to effective strategy execution is the intelligent use of metrics and milestones as a means of holding people accountable to  the behaviours that drive the strategy. 

clearly and consistently communicates strategy to all stakeholders

Ideally corporate vision and objectives are cascaded throughout an organisation such that what happens at a grass roots level supports high level strategy. Gaining buy-in to what the organisation is trying to achieve is key. How a leader communicates with key stakeholders and how frequently and clearly is a critical lever for strategic execution. 

Takes accountability for strategy execution

Strategy is the remit of all managers. A common misconception is that strategy is only for directors and senior managers. Nothing could be further from the truth. This behaviour seeks to ensure continuity between the expectations of senior leaders and the managers taking accountability (or not, as the case may be) for strategy execution (see sample below). 

This sample report could highlight the participant: 

  • Lacks self awareness
  • Is unclear about his/her accountabilities
  • Is more open in thinking with direct reports than others