Thomas (2002) states that “purpose and vision provided a target that could align the efforts of different people to solve problems and cooperate.” When a vision and a sense of effort exist among the members of an organization, they become lined up in a harmonized way while working together to achieve a shared purpose.
George (2007) says: The most empowering condition of all is when the entire organization is aligned with its mission, and people’s passions and purpose are in synch with each other. Individuals usually have their own passions that drive them. If the organization’s leaders can demonstrate how they can fulfill their purpose while achieving the organization’s mission, then alignment can occur.
Within an organization, if teams don’t have synchronization, they will be completing tasks without bringing together passions and goals. According to Logan (2008): Alignment … means bringing pieces into the same line – the same direction. Tribes based on alignment want to maximize each person’s contribution, provided that they stay pointed in the same general direction like magnetized iron filings. As long as the tribe remains aligned on core values and a noble cause, its unity is strong and produces coordinated action married with passionate resolve.
Leaders need to make sure that they are able to bring members together so that they have a shared desire and purpose that allows them to joint efforts and dedicate their energy and commitment in a constructive manner.
Ball (1997) says: Alignment of business goals means agreement among the business’s mission, vision, values, goals, plans, and actions – from the overall company perspective all the way to the individual perspective. Alignment in business also means “unity” – when everyone is working harmoniously as a unit toward the same common objectives and purposes.
The challenge for leaders is to try to create a clear line of sight between the organization’s mission, vision, and values, and the goals, plans, and actions of individuals. Kaplan (2006) writes: Corporations must continually search for ways to make the whole more valuable than the sum of its parts. Alignment is critical if enterprises are to achieve synergies throughout their business and support units. It also allows creating synergies and values when the entities involved work together to reach a consensus about the objectives for the relationship. Since this builds understanding and trust, enterprises must have active policies to communicate, educate, motivate and align employees with the strategy.
Finding ways to bring members together and in line with the goals of an organization, leaders create essential unity among them. The existence of an atmosphere where members feel the worthiness to communicate and work together motivates them to promote the growth and success of the organization that they are working for.
Covey (2004) observes: Aligning is a form of nourishing the body politic and the spirit of trust, vision and empowerment and deals with the question. Are we on target? Are we on track regarding what matters most? This helps the organization to stay constantly focused on its highest-priority goals.
According to George, the Medtronic’s heart-valve factory in southern California has extremely skilled employees that reconfigure valves from pig hears to replace human heart valves. One of those workers showed him that her passion for her work is tied directly to the company mission when she explained that her “job is to make heart valves that save lives” and by setting high standards for herself (George, 2007). As per George, that same worker explains: Before I sign my name to a completed valve, I decided whether it is good enough to put in my mother or my son. Unless it meets that standard, it does not pass. If just one of the valves I make is defective, someone may die. To the company 99.9 percent quality may be acceptable, but I could not live with myself if I caused someone’s death. But when I go home at night, I fall asleep thinking about the five thousand people who are alive today because of heart valves I made.
According to Logan, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) “is an organization where people often disagree about rule changes or revenue splits. Yet as long as they stay focused on ‘everybody’s gotta win’ they can work together.” This way unity is strong because the entire participants remain aligned on core values and a noble cause (Logan, 2008).
So when the employees’ passions, plans, goals and actions are not lined up with the organization’s mission, values, strategy, goals, plans and actions that translates into an absence of shared values and inexistence of a noble joint cause. At the same time, there is the risk of having employees that do not feel motivated nor passionate about what they do as a team. Each employee tends to acts on their own direction and the company cannot obtain synergies nor maximize the contribution that each of them could provide to the success of the organization as a whole. This, obviously, doesn’t help the company or its members to stay focused in the same direction and on what is most important for its success. It can also affect trust and understanding within the team since most of its members do not recognize how each of their jobs fit into the big picture.