There’s no question that the adage “there is strength in numbers” is 100 percent applicable to the efforts of an executive committee.

So then why is creating an authentic, committed alignment such a challenge for so many top executives? After all — when it comes to management results — conventional wisdom dictates that executive teams should be masterful at coalescing their combined strengths for the greater good of the enterprise.

Defining Alignment

As outlined in “How Do You Embed Breakthrough Performance? Stop Agreeing. Start Aligning,” Insigniam consultant Gregory Trueblood establishes that generating alignment requires two things:

  • Making commitments public;
  • Voicing peoples’ concerns with the intent of having them addressed.

We’ll address both of these points later in this series of posts, but first, let’s explore what inhibits executive alignment.

What Gets in the Way?

The most destructive and limiting factor that prevents powerful C-level alignment at the committee level has a great deal to do with representations.

When members of the executive team do not view the committee itself as their primary support structure — the very colleagues they must rely on to accomplish their own, business-critical goals — a contextual challenge arises. When this happens, committee members operate within what is commonly labeled as a siloed state of mind.

It may be natural for a CFO to turn to an EVP of Finance to serve as a thought partner on various tactical issues, however, unless he or she is primarily aligned with other members of their executive committee — and relies on them to grapple with and solve underlying strategic obstacles, they risk operating in a vacuum.

It is important to make clear that this lack of cohesion is not always intentional — and that misalignment does not suggest insensitivity on the part of anyone person on the executive committee. However, it’s critical to realize that in order for C-level leaders to approach and perceive the committee as their primary organizational support structure, a level playing field must be established. This is the topic of our next discussion: Powerful C-Level Alignment: Part II — Leveling the Field.

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