Effective leadership is key to the success of every organization, and becomes especially critical when an organization is preparing to undergo transformational change. In today’s fast-paced business environment, it is vital that leaders master essential competencies while also building trust to keep their organizations aligned during these periods of transformation.
Alignment Leaders and Their Key Abilities
We believe that the most important step for leaders today is to become Alignment Leaders® who strive to “attend to the health and effectiveness of their organizations.”1
These Alignment Leaders display four distinctive characteristics or abilities:
- The ability to make choices & trade-offs,
- The ability to ensure alignment across choices,
- The ability to drive change, and
- The ability to build capabilities within the organization.
To successfully optimize these characteristics, leaders must maintain power and influence within their organization. How this power is gained and wielded, however, can have a significant effect on the success of an organization.
Power and Influence
Teacher and author Dr. Blaine Lee2 shares three paths leaders can follow to wield power:
- A person takes advantage of the capacity, authority, or ability to intimidate or bully people; they do something unpleasant or uncomfortable to other people.
- A person gains influence because of what they can do for others; this person has the capacity to do something that other people want.
- A person becomes powerful because others believe in, honor, and respect them; people comply with this power because they want what the leader wants.3
The best Alignment Leaders exercise this third path to power: power with their teams, not over their teams. In his bestselling book, Good to Great, author Jim Collins3 shared the results of a study in which every company that successfully performed transformation had leaders who had found the perfect mix of humility and drive.
“We found that for leaders to make something great, their ambition has to be for the greatness of the work and the company, rather than for themselves,” Collins wrote.
Humility Builds Trust
It is critical that leaders use humility to establish trust within their organizations. This method of acquiring and wielding power can be used to develop each of the four characteristics of a successful Alignment Leader and ultimately lead their organization to success.
Failing to establish trust greatly increases the risk of failure of a leader and their organization. As Stephen Covey explains, this lack of trust occurs when a leader blames the people in the organization “without understanding their own responsibility to create, deploy, and maintain systems that promote an environment of high trust.”4
So how can a leader apply humility and inspire trust and earn power? The leader can continuously, actively engage in ensuring that, as strategies are continually changing, the capabilities of the organization and the individual choices that create those capabilities maintain alignment to ensure delivery of the strategy. This is their real work.
 Deshler, R., Smith, K., Von Feldt, A. Mastering the Cube. Louisville, KY: AlignOrg Solutions, 2014. p79
 Lee, Blaine. The Power Principle. NY, NY: Simon Schuster, 1997. p9
 Collins, Jim. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’t. NY, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc, 2001. p20
 Covey, Stephen M.R. The Speed of Trust. NY, NY: Free Press. 2006. p238