What We Learned By Interviewing A Leadership Alignment Expert

Everyone wants to feel fulfilled by their jobs – but can fulfillment be achieved through an employer’s leadership style? Chris Meroff, Executive Director and Owner of MSB Ventures and the author and creator of Alignment Leadership, believes it can. We recently chatted with him on our podcast, ProjectHR, about “leadership alignment” and how to create employee fulfillment.

The premise behind Chris’ book, Align: Four Simple Steps for Leaders to Create Employee Fulfillment Through Alignment Leadership, or Align, is to create unity between employers and employees, both in and out of work, and to help employees find personal fulfillment in their work. We’ll cover some of the things we learned from our interview that you could use to improve the way you connect with your workforce and align your leadership to ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals!

Identifying the Moving Target 

Mr. Meroff worked with his parents early in his career, which was a great workplace experience, but one that forced him to consider the question of value – of course, his parents valued him as their son, but did they value him as an employee, and what did that even mean? He discovered that value could be a sort of “moving target,” changing day to day, and he wished to remove this moving target of value, both for himself and his employees.

The Concept of Alignment Leadership

Essentially, the concept of alignment leadership is the ability for a team – on or off the job – to be on the same page and in agreement about where they are going. It’s about unity, partnering with your team to allow for conversation to be free-flowing. It’s also about experiencing the workplace in a way that allows everyone to win all the time. As Chris stated perfectly, “Really, alignment leadership is about creating win-wins for both employers and employees.” Leadership revolves around loving and truly serving those around you. The premise of alignment leadership is valuing your employees as the people they truly are.

The Importance of Finding Fulfillment at Work

A central part of this concept of alignment leadership is leaders helping employees find personal fulfillment in their work. Fulfillment comes from understanding and agreeing with where your company is going and understanding where your effort plays into it. Of course, this can be difficult to articulate at work – and that’s something we’re trying to solve by creating this concept about leadership that is all about unity. 

This also plays into the idea of servant leadership. Alignment Leadership defines leadership as “loving and serving people toward fulfillment.” “Love” is not often talked about at work, but incorporating the use of that word in the workplace allows people to feel that they have intrinsic value, that they’re not just a cog in a wheel, that they’re not only valuable because of what they can do but because of who they are.

Align To Eliminate Uncertainty

Uncertainty is the elephant in the room. When you don’t know where you stand with someone, it creates anxiety (personally and professionally). The framework of Chris’s book Align is to help create conversation points to eliminate that uncertainty and force the conversation around what we want to avoid. Still, we can do it in a way that makes it a fair playing field for everyone.

Alignment Leadership’s Four-Step Process

  1. CULTURE: Define and understand the culture of your organization or your team. This step is so crucial and foundational to move forward.
  2. TASKS: Understand how to leverage your defined culture and your purpose to prioritize your time.
  3. RESOURCES: How to take those prioritized tasks and projects and assign them to the resources (the people) that you have in your organization based on the value that they bring — not just what they know or what they can do, but who they are and their passions.
  4. EMPLOYEE SUCCESS PLANNING: After you’ve created alignment around the first three steps, this is much more than just a performance review!

After Chris walked us through the four-step process surrounding alignment leadership, it was enlightening to hear him break down each of the steps and how to apply them within your unique organization. We will share the bullet-point version, but don’t hesitate to check this podcast out for yourself!

Culture

  • Alignment Leadership’s definition of culture: Culture is the sum of the world views of the people in the room.
  • World view = five traits: your experiences, traditions, hopes, preferences, and beliefs. This is how you show up to every conversation and meeting.
  • There is no one “right” world view – we celebrate the diversity of world views. There is power, innovation, and collaboration through the diversity of world views!
  • We don’t just want to define our culture; we want to shape it.
  • Shaping it begins with defining the organization’s purpose, which allows people to buy-in to the organization’s journey.
  • Shaping also happens through defining principles (core values) – soft skills that we agree we’re going to hold each other accountable to.

Tasks

  • Now that the journey has been decided upon, we have to identify what we’re going to do next — what’s the first thing we’re going to do to accomplish this goal?
  • Prioritizing tasks eliminates uncertainty for both employee and employer.
  • The team develops the task list together because you want employees to step up in ownership. Then leaders follow up with individual employees to confirm they are comfortable with their tasks.

Resources

  • People are your greatest resources!
  • Open tasks to employees to volunteer/opt-in for tasks
  • Assign tasks, as needed, with an understanding of who employees are and what they’re passionate about as individuals.

Employee Success Planning

  • Once employees and the leader are aligned (steps 1-3), leaders can begin to imagine the future for each employee and communicating those thoughts with their employees.
  • This can be so impactful for employees and leaders alike! When you can start to see people for who they are and appreciate their value, you can get very specific and very personal about the value they bring to the organization. 
  • This can profoundly and positively impact productivity!

Excellent Failures

Of course, we had to chat with Chris about his incredible podcast, Excellent Failures. Chris designed this podcast for his “love to celebrate failures” and show other leaders that none of us are alone. Failing always leads to learning, and we can always learn something new as leaders, and as humans. One more thing that Chris said – that we had to make an extra note of – was that he always makes sure to “reward excellent failures and punish mediocre success.” What an eye-opening idea! Don’t forget to check out his podcast to hear more.

Alignment Leadership is an incredible concept that could change your organization’s trajectory and the relationship you have with your employees. Chris Meroff’s book, Align, can be purchased on Amazon and can help create unity in your workplace. Make sure you listen to the full podcast episode here, and don’t forget to subscribe, so you never miss an episode! ProjectHR was created for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals, designed to inspire you with new insight and ideas every week!

Jennifer Orechwa

In over 25 years of helping companies connect with their employees, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of continuous improvement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.

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