Insight article

Board alignment – no more corporate nod

I’ve been getting hot around the collar about the issue of board alignment this week, sparked in part by a masterclass with Intuitive Brands where the subject came up in the discussion.

One of the most valued elements of our programme is the process which we take a client’s board or executive team through as they co-create their Story, and aligning everyone behind it so that they are speaking with one voice.  One Story, one voice, so that the senior leaders of the business are seen to be a united, cohesive force – the ultimate champions of the Story.

It is rare  to come across a board which is aligned from the get-go.  Yet unless the board is truly aligned, you cannot hope to align the rest of the organisation behind your strategic journey.  Many of our clients say early on in our discussions that they do have an aligned board or executive team, that it’s a given, that they just need to focus on the content of the Story.  But with the pace of change dominating the business agenda it is unrealistic to expect every member of an executive team to be on the same page.  Of course they have different agendas depending on the function which they represent, but sometimes we walk into the boardroom with high expectations of a relatively smooth process and find- usually during the one-to-one interviews we conduct, that there are deep and significant gaps in consensus, especially where the personal agenda is on a different track to that of the business.  The story isn’t about wordsmithing.  It’s about an aligned, collective perspective.

The overwhelming positive outcome of our alignment sessions is that through a rigorous process, often after several iterations of the draft Story together with sensitive and expert facilitation and a deep understanding of the client’s business issues, we achieve true alignment and the client has positively enjoyed the dynamic, honest and open discussion which perhaps they couldn’t have behind closed doors (never under-estimate the value of a third-party facilitator in such matters – it’s surprisingly difficult to do this kind of work from an internal perspective).  They leave with a sense of unity, a desire to get their story out to the troops, a renewed sense of coalition and trust in each other rather than a bunch of folk who give the CEO the corporate nod but then turn in the opposite direction.  The result?  A united leadership team, ready to face the organisation with a clear sense of direction and purpose, galvanised to take their employees on the journey, hands held.

Nailia Tasseel