Warren Bennis once said, “Management is getting people to do what needs to be done. Leadership is getting people to want to do what needs to be done.”* I would add that, in today’s wired world, a vital part of the CEO’s job is about getting people intensely aligned behind wanting to do what needs to be done.
Intense alignment is everything when it comes to mobilizing an organization.
KNOW • You may have designed a compelling future, pulled together the best leadership team on the planet, selected bold, yet doable goals. But if you don’t have your employees and customers, your suppliers and distributors intensely aligned around what you’re doing, you may as well forfeit the game. It is only possible to accomplish a lot in a short period of time if you have everyone pulling together to win.
Let’s be clear. We’re not talking compliance here. Alignment allows for different perspectives, differences of opinion, disagreements. Getting to alignment is about helping people see the value to them of modifying their actions so that they are pulling with you, rather than pushing in another direction or just sitting back and doing nothing.
Can you as CEO somehow speed up this process of getting to alignment?
DO • Employ “Instant Thunder”.
This is the part of your job you will never stop doing: communicating (a.k.a. speaking and listening). During Mobilization, you will never stop sharing the company’s ambition and goals, the corporate strategy and values.
Telling people what you are intending to do is hardly ever as effective as showing them. So show them—with your words and your actions. Share your vision and the intensity of your passion with everyone—whether you are talking with one person or a group of ten, one hundred, one thousand or ten thousand. Be genuine in these conversations, whether you are the charismatic extrovert or the quietly strong introvert. Follow your words with relevant actions that demonstrate your own commitment.
Your listening in these conversations can speak louder than words. Make it a point to never speak without taking the time to listen. People’s questions and concerns will reveal sources of problems, potential frictions or outright resistance. Pay attention: execution will slow or stall if you don’t tend to these potential “black holes” in your business. For things not in your immediate range of experience or thought, task the appropriate members of your leadership team with investigating further and coming back to you with resolutions or recommendations.
This is not to say that absolutely everyone will want to come with you. The threat of large-scale change and big challenges often reveals who will stand in the way of the company achieving velocity. Be prepared to encounter your own fair share of perpetual complainers, change resisters, saboteurs and sloths. Mobilization doesn’t warrant supporting sources of interpersonal drag. Either convert or let go of these energy vampires as you unearth them.
A word of caution: the tool of communicating can turn quite suddenly from a Momentum Builder to a Momentum Killer. Be aware that all eyes are on you, wherever and whenever you are. In the age of smart phones, word spreads fast. Any hint that you are out of alignment with the vision, the goals or the values you have declared for the company puts all the intense alignment you have generated at risk. Your integrity counts—all day, every day.
Want to learn more about what and how successful CEOs communicate during Mobilization? Check out /move: The CEO's Playbook for Capturing Value.
*Bennis, Warren. An Invented Life: Reflections on Leadership and Change. New York: Perseus Books, 1994. Page 104.