In this installment of Align and Unleash, we focus on the power of one-mindedness. One-mindedness is critical to alignment because through it a team creates a common view which then enables common action.
In this installment we focus on:
- What one-minded is and why it’s core to alignment
- The process of alignment
1. Remind the team that Misalignment isn’t the problem. Remaining misaglined is.
2. Rally the team around mission critical ideas and work where realignment is necessary.
3. Create the One-Mind Perspective. Do this by articulating and understanding the common and Mission-critical Perspective.
4. Bring the team to the choice-point that realigns the them for the sake of the mission.
- Applying the process to a situation on your team
Below are three resources:
1. A 40-minute audio program focused on one-mindedness (below with transcript
2. An infographic describing the alignment process
3. A brief article that explores more elements critical to alignment
Below is a transcript of the audio program. Forgive any mistakes the A.I. might have made in the transcription process.
Align and Unleash – One Mindedness – Audio Two
This is Dave Fleming at the ingenuity lab. You’ve made your choice to align and unleash. You recognize that the ability to deliberately and consistently choose excellence keeps you from the slide of mediocrity. And when a group of people, when a team pursuing a mission do this together, choose this path together. Powerful things can happen as they pursue as they advance their work. To align and to unleash are the two overlapping dynamics that turbocharge if you will the work of a team, teams can work in a misaligned fashion. But when they do, the potency of their work diminishes.
If for no other reason, just think of people trying to row a boat, two different directions at the same time. Or think of what happens when groups of people play tug of war. There’s simply a resistance that comes when people push against rather than determine together and align together, their thinking and their acting. And so today, we come after making our choice to the first element of align and unleash, we come to the idea of alignment, what is alignment.
Now, much has been written, much has been discussed over the last few decades around the power of alignment. And why alignment is such a critical element for teaming, and for increasing the effectiveness of any mission you and others are together working to accomplish. And we could talk about the complexities of alignment. And in some way we will along the way. But I want to break this down to a very basic idea but extremely powerful one and it’s this alignment between people is first when they achieve one mindedness that means they’ve developed one mind and then they continue to come back and achieve it again and again. Alignment is a team’s ability to find and sustain one mindedness.
So to understand one mindedness is first to understand the concept of one mind. I want you to think about the people that you work with the team that you are most intimately and regularly associated with, can you see them? Can you see them sitting around a table together? Imagine them sitting around a table together. And imagine a conversation occurring between you where you’re trying to either make a decision or advance some initiative or project or solve a problem or whatever it is, you are talking together. And there’s something that is personal to each one around the circle. They have their own ideas, they have their own voice, they have their own perspective. But as you talk, as you push and pull together on the ideas, something else is achieved. And that’s something else is one mind.
One mindedness don’t let me give a really basic example that a lot of us probably can immediately grab on to in your organization. Do you have a set of values or behavioral standards? These behaviors that the organization together says these are going to matter to us collectively and as we do our work. We want to do it with these values or behaviors in mind, we want to express. So for instance, let’s say that one of the values in an organization is respect. So as we have a difficult conversation, I want to demonstrate or respect, the tone of my voice, the look on my face, the words I choose not to diminish someone, or whatever those might look like.
We identify what those behaviors are that equal respect. And then together, we only expression of those behaviors in any given context, or situation that we find ourselves. Now, you could say that that organization, let’s say it’s 300 people, you could say, they have developed one mindedness around the importance of respect, meaning they have all come to see its value. And they together agree that it will be something they work to express, even when it’s hard in the work they do together. They have achieved one mindedness, respect, even if we disagree, respect, even if there’s conflict, respect, even if their stress respect, there’s one mindedness that’s been achieved. Now, you don’t just declare that your value is respect. And everyone says, Okay, sounds good to me. And all of a sudden, you have one mindedness, you have to work hard to achieve one in mindedness. And then you have to work hard to sustain it into the future, because we can easily lose it. But we’re just a little bit ahead of ourselves, let’s continue to look at the anatomy of one mindedness.
Now, imagine that your team has been handed a difficult piece of news, that’s going to require them to alter their work in a way that initially seems distressing. Or there is a kind of angst about this change, it could be a change where something important to the team is being removed. Or it could be something new is being added that also to the team feels either unnecessary or worse. Now, you often know that you hit one of these situations, based on how people respond, there can be a general frustration. And this general frustration for some people can just be, you know, mild, and happiness, oh, well, what are you going to do, all the way over to the other side of the continuum, where people are mad and venting. And there’s everything in between. But what happens is, the team comes to a halt, the team comes to a halt around this particular issue, because they have lost alignment. Maybe the leader of the team knows the value of the change that needs to occur.
And perhaps she’s trying to talk to the team about why this is an important element of the work, why they need to do this, why they why they need to make this change, but the team’s not buying it. What have you lost at that point, you’ve lost one mindedness. And maybe it’s also possible that the leader, though trying to convince the team, if you will, that this is something that they need to do. Perhaps the leader doesn’t agree either. So the leader can be split in herself, trying to talk to the team about a mandate that she doesn’t agree with.
Now, this dynamic happens frequently on a team, but is often under the radar, where people recognize the angst of the moment but they’re not doing anything to try and rectify back to one mindedness. Instead, what’s happening is maybe the people who are not, you know, ultimately, all that bothered or all that affected by the change might be over on one side of the continuum where it’s sort of like, well, you know, what are you going to do? It’s just what we have to do. And there can be people all the way over on the other side who are angry, who are complaining consistently and constantly about this thing. And then you can have a continuum of people in the middle. But what you have for sure, is the loss of one mind.
The team has lost its one mindedness. And you can tell when a team has lost one mindedness, there are clues. One unproductive complaining goes up. Now notice I didn’t say complaining. Because sometimes complaining is good. It can reveal where there is a breakdown that needs to be addressed. But unproductive complaining is sort of this rehashing of unhappiness over and over and over with no desire whatsoever to solve it. The desire is to undo the thing that made me unhappy in the first place, the mandate or the change, or whatever it might be. That is a signal of lack of one mindedness, because some people might not have much of a problem with the new change, and other people might be completely undone by it. And then they’re having conversations together. And there’s a lack of one mindedness.
Another signal that a team has lost one mindedness is what I call the meetings that happen after the meetings. So we’re having a conversation about something that maybe is difficult for the team, whatever it is, it doesn’t even have to be something handed down from the senior leadership. It’s just something going on that’s causing angst. And they’re the team is at odds with each other, each other with the people on the team. They’re at odds, and they have a meeting to talk about it. But they don’t really get to the core of the issue. Instead, they talk around the problem and then leave and talk to the people who they’re aligned with after the meeting, where they really express how they feel. So when teams can no longer talk honestly about a subject because they’re too splintered. In their view, it’s a signal that they’ve lost one mindedness. One final clue, and there are many, many others.
But one final clue is a general increase in frustration with each other. And you can just see why this would happen. It’s hard to be at odds, even in a small way, it’s hard to be at odds with people who we spend a lot of time pursuing a mission together and doing work together. It’s hard. It’s hard when that happens. And so people start to, let’s say over complain and another person who’s really not all that, affected by it, just get sick and tired of hearing about the complaining or reverse that the people who are complaining are really tired of the people who aren’t affected much. Not caring about how it’s affecting those who it’s really affecting. You see how this can go and all of a sudden the frustration level of the team goes up. There are clues that a team has lost one mindedness. When that happens, there are a couple of really important things leaders do. And teams do that help to re establish one mind alignment. This must be one of the most important things leaders and teams do together.
If you’re the leader of a team, one of your most important roles is to continue to have conversations, to reestablish alignment, where it has been lost, and to achieve better alignment, so that future work can be done better. It is absolutely essential. Whether you’re a frontline leader, or you’re the CEO, you have to be concerned about alignment. Because if you’re not concerned about alignment, we will drift into option B. Remember option B from our introductory thoughts together. Option B is some form of mediocrity, or some form of malaise that comes over a team where they no longer engage with a passion personally or collectively. And that begins the slide and where does the slide begin? The slide often begins when one mindedness is lost. It can be very subtle at the beginning of the process of losing your one mindedness very subtle, but over time it grows until you can have a Grand Canyon like chasm of of the lack of one month. mindedness and that’s when teams really slip into option B. So this has to be something that you as a leader, if you are one, care deeply about are highly sensitive to the cues of misalignment. Now, once those happen, let’s talk about what leaders and teams can do
to reestablish and even strengthen their alignment, in the midst of losing it.
The first action a leader can take to help restore alignment, when it has been lost, is to remind herself and her team of this important principle. misalignment is not the problem. Misalignment happens. The problem is when we stay misaligned. Now, this is actually a really important first element that teams need to be reminded of, we are going to be misaligned. If people are passionately working toward a mission together, they’re going to see things differently. They’re going to at times have very strong personal perspectives that don’t match well with another person on the team or with others on the team. This happens, this is not the problem. Misalignment isn’t the problem. Now, if you’re just perpetually misaligned, that that can be a problem, you get aligned. And then a day later, you’re misaligned. And a day later, you’re misaligned. But generally speaking, just falling into misalignment is not the problem.
The problem is when we allow the MIS alignment, to stay to fester, to in some way, take root into the team and then fester. And then it grows. And then pretty soon you have something rather dramatic on your hands, that just rears its ugly head at the weirdest times you’re just having a conversation about something, and something will get tapped in the conversation that will will activate a person, and it will reveal that misalignment. It could be again about some protocol or some process or policy. And just it just gets tapped the right way and boom, out it comes. And there it is. There’s that misalignment that’s never actually been dealt with. We’ve all experienced this. That’s why we need to spot misalignment with sensitivity and then work to close that gap of misalignment as quickly as possible.
And the first way to do that, as a leader and as a team is to understand it happens. We shouldn’t freak out when we’re misaligned. Because if we freak out in the misalignment, we will have a much harder time wanting to approach the conversation, which can lead to the realignment. Oh, no, let’s not go there. Oh, no, please don’t bring that up. Let’s not have that conversation. Then pretty soon we’ve got these radioactive zones on a team, where these are the things we don’t talk about. That is where the trouble lies. So the first thing to remind yourself of as a leader and your team, and the first thing the team is to embrace together if they want to get out of the misalignment is it’s natural that this happens. It’s okay that this happens, where we will fall off the edge of the Earth, if you will, is if we allow it to remain.
This comes back to a choice point that leaders bring their teams to in the moment of misalignment. You bring the misalignment up as the leader, the thing that’s causing the split or the angst on the team. You bring it up and you invite people first to recognize the misalignment and then to be committed to working through it. It’s okay that we’re missing out It’s not okay to stay misaligned. Now, this misalignment, we’ve been talking thus far about it happening on a team in the team between team members. But teams can miss a line from each other in an organization. In healthcare, this happens all the time doctors become misaligned with administrators. And the doctors become misaligned with the nurses or the nurses are misaligned with the administrators or, and we have these sort of tribal skirmishes. And then we start to create perceptions about those different tribes in the organization.
So the first thing we still have to come back to as a leader is that it’s okay to be misaligned with another team. It is not okay to stay misaligned. As a leader, that is the first practical step remind your team misalignment happens. That’s not the problem. It’s if we stay here, and give them a choice point. Come with me on the process of realignment. And let’s get back to one mind on this issue. And that leads us to the second part of the process. So the first part is to remind people that misalignment happens, but we cannot allow it to remain. The second part is to, to bring the team together or the teams together and find and rally around what is mission critical.
Let me say it again, find and rally around what is mission critical. Now when people are misaligned, they’re misaligned, because they’re bringing their own personal perspectives to the table. And those personal perspectives don’t match. Or if it’s two different teams, the team perspectives are not syncing up. But either way, let’s go back to a misalignment on a team. The people around the table have various perspectives that are not lining up together. And their passion around their own perspective is not allowing them to find what’s common.
But the second element is to get back to what is common. And what is common that which is critical to the mission. You see, because that which is critical to the mission, must in some way supersede that, which is critical to my personal perspective, there are times when for the sake of the mission in an organization, people must yield some or all have their own perspective, depending on the situation, they must yield some or all of their own perspective, in order for that commonality, that place of commonality to be achieved. For the sake of the mission. I let me just say those last words again, for the sake of the mission, it’s not who can construct the best argument, and that person wins. It’s what is the best for the mission. And sometimes that means I’m going to have to yield my personal view. And part of my personal wishes and desires for the sake of the mission. And this is hard. It’s tricky to do. But it’s essential that it happened. There has to be something bigger than my perspective, or anyone else’s perspective. There has to be an Uber perspective that is best for the mission.
So let’s give a practical example. In the healthcare world. There is something called floating nurses float. And I have limited but but significant experience in working in hospital systems as a coach and a consultant. And I would say generally, I don’t think I have encountered lots of nurses who like to float. Floating is when the nurse walks in on any particular day, thinking he or she is going to do his or her job. And then is told that someone is sick in another department. And they’re going to have to float over to that other department. And they don’t want to float over to that other department. They don’t like that other department. I don’t want to have to be the nurse that floats.
I’ve sat with groups of nurses who are completely misaligned with their Administration’s view on floating, and they’re unhappy, and they’re mad, and they’re bitter. And they don’t like it, and they complain about it. But they know they’re not going to be able to change that particular element of what they have to do that policy, they’re going to have to float. Now they have a couple choices. Will they stay misaligned? Or will they find what’s common and best for the sake of the mission? So if an ER nurse needs to float over to ICU, let’s say, Is it best for the mission that he or she do that I would say it would probably be best for the patient, as long as the nurse has the skill to do it right now, if the nurse doesn’t have the skill, and he or she has been put into a compromising position where they’re not sure they can do it, that’s a different story. But if the nurse is qualified, what is best for the mission.
So if a group of nurses were misaligned around the policy of floating, what the leader would need to do in this second step is bring them back to what is best for the sake of the mission, is it best that we float, and then start to detail out some of the reasons why it is, and have a conversation about that, trying to find what is common and best for the mission. Now, this is a very important part of the process, because you have to find where the Uber perspective lives. Alignment is about a sending to that bigger perspective, that is better for the mission. The third element is tied to the second, you bring out why there is an Uber perspective, you bring out why there is a common view that’s best for the mission. And then you talk about it. You talk it through, you let the nurses sitting around the table, say, you know, but I don’t like to do I see you work?
Yes, I did it in the past. But sometimes it makes me nervous. Because when I do it, I’m not sure I have the qualifications. Well, that’s fair to bring up. So now this particular nurse is bringing up her objections that then can be dealt with, either by saying, Well, you know, you’re right. Maybe we need to get you some training or no, here’s what we expect from a nurse who’s floating. You don’t have to do some of the more intricate elements of the ICU work. We just need you to, you know, support the other ICU nurses who are on that day. Oh, well, I thought I had a ha. Now what’s happening? We’re starting to gain clarity around the common mission. What is it we’re trying to do?
What does it mean to float? What does it look like to float? What are the expectations of floating? All of that has to be hashed out? Often misalignment happens, because we’re just not clear on what words mean, what concepts mean? What expectations there are, we create stories in our minds about what things mean? And we have to give as leaders people on the team time to push on that which seems to be the most important element for the mission. They still need to have a moment to push on it.
Because that either will help them yield their own perspective. Or it may help us really refine what is best for the mission and somehow reshape what needs to be done. This is why talking it through is so critical. If a leader has a Just do what I say mentality when When it comes to misalignment, and they don’t want to tolerate having to wade into the mess of the conversation, they’re just kicking the can down the road, they may be able to exert power and just say do it because you have to. But over time that misalignment is going to infect the team, far beyond what the leader could have ever imagined, when they didn’t tolerate the talk, the pushing on the messy conversation, you have to talk it through, and it has to be safe to disagree in the midst of gaining alignment.
Now, at some point, we have to come to a choice point. At some point, we have to move from finding that common space that’s best for the mission. Once we’ve talked it through, we have to come to a choice point are you in Are you in and are you in with a positive attitude and an engaged set of hands. And that’s the next element that a leader must bring the team to. And that is the choice point, the choice point of being invested in what we’ve discovered, is critical to regain alignment nurses, let’s say in hospital a need to float.
That’s the way it’s going to be. And there is a way to do it, that allows the nurse to stay within his or her skill set and support what’s happening in another place in the hospital. And nurses are going to be on a rotation where that floating happens. And you may come in on a day. And you may be asked to float. And that floating is essential to our mission. And you’ve let people understand the why. And you’ve let them push on it.
And maybe they’ve even helped you refine that, why and refine how floating is done through the conversation. But at some point as a leader, once you’ve established a common view that is best for the mission, you must bring people to a choice point. Are you in? Are you in on what is best for the mission? We’ve discovered it, we’ve pushed it around we’ve you know, quote hashed through it. And now here is our Uber perspective that is best for the mission. Dave, are you in? Sarah, are you in? Pete? Are you in? Ginger? Are you in? And I at times like to actually have the team go around and give an affirmative answer or not. This is where the rubber meets the road. Why? Because when I vocalize my Affirmative, yes.
Then I need to be expected to enter that yes, with a positive and engaged investment in making it a reality. No more unproductive complaining, no more sarcasm, no more eye rolling. No more taking pot shots at people who aren’t in the room. No more blaming evey, whoever they are none of that. Once we have found the Uber perspective that is best for the mission, then it is about wholeheartedly supporting it.
That’s why the earlier steps are so important. That’s why it’s so important to find and rally around what’s best for the mission through really challenging conversations that allow people to express their frustrations, allow people to express their perspectives and allow people to gain that Uber perspective that they may not initially like but come to see is important for the mission. Every single person on a team at one time or another will have to yield their own desires and wants to something that is better for the whole.
That is just part of being in an organization and as a leader, you will have to do that and you will have to bring others to that choice point. And that choice point means that from the moment we leave this desk or table where we’re talking from the moment we leave this you are investing In a positive way, to make what we’ve decided a reality, you’re aligned, you’re aligned, you’re emotionally and in an engaged, energetic way in on making it work. And then you move forward, you advance, you move forward with the new change.
Now, that doesn’t mean there might not be things that have to adapt or things that happen as you execute the change. Of course, that’s life. But you move forward, and you move forward, realigned, you have re established the connection of alignment. And that is both something attitudinal, something psychological, and something of an energy output. All of that has to be aligned, I have to emotionally own it, I have to psychologically understand it, and I have to energetically engage it. That is critical to the success of the alignment that was achieved. What is something where there’s misalignment right now, on your team?
As a leader, or as a team member? Can you think of something where there’s misalignment? Get that something in your head, and let me just one more time walk you through the steps of achieving realignment, you got it, you got that thing that’s misaligned. First, go to your team. And help them appreciate that misalignment is not the problem.
misalignment is not the problem. The problem is sustained misalignment. The problem is when we allow misalignment to continue, has that misalignment around the thing that you’re thinking of has it continued for some time, then that would be the issue. That would be where you’d want to start with your team. It’s okay for us to be misaligned. It’s not okay to stay misaligned, then number two, you would have to enter into a series of conversations where you find and rally around that Uber perspective that is best for the mission. And that means number three, you let people push and pull on the ideas that are related to that Uber perspective.
I don’t understand. But this doesn’t seem fair, or but But what about this, or I don’t feel qualified. And all that has to get out that has to come out. If it doesn’t come out in productive conversation, it’s gonna come out in unproductive action. So it’s got to come out. But once it all comes out, and you really feel like you’ve established that Uber perspective, I still as a team member might not like it. But now comes number four, the choice point am I in? Am I engaged? Am I in attitudinally? Am I in intellectually, psychologically? Am I in in an energetically Am I in? And I should give account for that as a team member? Yes, I’m in. And that means when I leave here, I am going to act and believe in what we are doing. Not roll my eyes every time it happens. I’m in and I’m invested. And I’m ready to advance this. I’m aligned. And then I move forward. I do it. If we have to reevaluate. That’s fine. No problem. That’s life. But I move forward with an engaged set of hands and attitude that allows others to see that this is not no mere phony expression of compliance, I really am in this is the process of reestablishing one mindedness.
It is one of the most important things you can do as a leader, no matter where you are in the leadership stream of your organization, whether you’re the CEO, or you just are a new frontline manager or lead. This is your role to spot misalignment. And to invite people into the process of realignment, so that you can achieve again, a one mindedness that then allows you to really set and unleash the power of engaged action that is aligned from the one mind where are misalignments on your team? Where do you need to work this process? How can you facilitate the process that we’ve talked about today? This is your role as a leader. Be humble, yet be assertive in noticing misalignment and inviting your team to realign and watch the collective energy, passion and action and behavior of the team increase in effectiveness. This is Dave Fleming at the ingenuity lab.