Think about some of the most dynamic business partners in recent history. Bill Gates and Paul Allen (Microsoft), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google), and Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard (HP) all showed that when visions, long-term goals, and skillsets mesh, the sum is truly greater than its individual parts.
That’s why even though you might possess all the skills necessary to be an effective Alignment Leader®—a proficiency in allocating resources, integrating strategy and structure, leading impactful change, and building future alignment leaders—without a change partner your efforts may not be realized as fully, as seamlessly, or as quickly as you’d planned.
Every company needs alignment advocates, from the C-suite to the front lines, to keep each unit, function, region, and department aligned with the organization’s strategic priorities. A consistently well-aligned organization is more adaptable when confronting change and is more capable of achieving results than an organization that seems to be fighting against itself to get things done.
Alignment Leader + Change Partner = Dynamic Duo
A change partner is not a yes-person. They are more than a company wing-man or side-kick. They are not an add on; they are a complement to business leaders whose role it is to architect the organization’s configuration. Change partners are there to support the leader and assist implementing organizational change by filling a variety of functions, from helping design a new operating model to providing thought leadership about how company strategy shapes structure and how proper alignment benefits both the company and individual employees.
Just as Alignment Leaders require specific traits and skills to achieve potential, so do change partners. When looking for someone to fill this role, here are some competencies to look for:
Diagnostic skills. Good change partners ask insightful and thought-provoking questions. They are open-minded and aren’t afraid to challenge assumptions.
Tools and processes. The most resourceful change partners possess an arsenal of tools for aligning all aspects of the organization and can effectively lead others through even the most challenging alignment efforts.
Navigating change. Change partners must be adept at anticipating the impacts of change and identifying strategies to help the organization and its employees respond in ways that effectively advance and make steady progress.
Thought partnership. One of the most important traits of a change partner is listening more than talking. Being an approachable, nonjudgmental, sounding board will encourage others to share their opinions, research, and experiences that will help inform decision-making and alternative approaches to keep the company aligned, healthy, and productive.
The best leaders are not only responsible for making sure changes are aligned with strategic goals, but also for making sure they actually happen. They understand the transformational journey a company and its employees must go through to enact change, and they appreciate the value of an equally competent and engaged change partner.
The best Alignment Leader-change partner duos work in sync to sustain momentum through the weeks and months of implementation by addressing appropriate set-up and resourcing, ensuring proper management of hand-offs, and maintaining a multi-dimensional focus so change happens in a balanced way throughout the organization. The more agile organizations and their leaders are in adapting to new marketplace pressures, the more an organization will benefit from having dynamic alignment leader/changer partner teams to realign processes, strategies, and structures. Those that do will retain their competitive edge and achieve their goals; those that don’t risk being left behind and struggling to catch up.