When Executive Leadership is Not Aligned

Indigo Airlines, the most successful airline in India currently, has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Media reports say that Indigo’s co-founders Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal, who hold near-equal stakes in the company were not aligned; specifically related to the company’s overseas expansion plans.

While this is a high-profile example, lack of alignment among the executive leadership team is quite a common problem. Not enough communication both upwards and downwards, not leveraging diversity of perspectives, not acknowledging and resolving differences in the open are all symptomatic of an organisation that lacks alignment at the top.

In our experience with the India Centre of a leading MNC manufacturer, we found that lack of alignment can hinder productivity considerably. The organization was facing some challenges around ensuring that all local teams are driving towards the common North, whether in India or in HQ. To jumpstart alignment and outcomes there are two aspects. The first is building trust and creating the will to collaborate. The second is about agreeing on the direction – the what and the how. The team identified the need for alignment on the strategic direction as well as the establishment of business-enabling cultural norms.

Facilitating this means:

  • Establishing a common ‘North’

A strong ‘Purpose’ that binds people through the tough times; ensures long-term sustainability, and helps balance risk with innovation.

  • Finding Common Ground

Agreeing on basic tactical day to day working arrangements. Establishing collaboration protocols to streamline information sharing.

  • Knowing the Team

Uncovering team strengths and watch out areas; acknowledging and valuing differences while keeping trust and respect intact.

The bottom-line is to ensure that the company succeeds by leveraging diverse strengths and opinions but finding common ground. Alignment at the top trickles down through the organisation to build a great organisation.