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Leadership is Alignment

Leadership is Intentional Alignment in the context of Results

The properties of magnetic materials have been known about for thousands of years.  The ancient Greeks and Romans knew that certain materials can attract other similar materials, notably lodestone which is an iron-rich material, and these materials have been used in compasses to help with navigation for almost as long.

A piece of ferromagnetic material such as an iron or steel bar is divided into tiny regions called magnetic domains, each of which can be thought of as a mini-magnet.  In its natural state these mini-magnets point in different directions and their magnetic fields cancel out, so the object has no net large scale magnetic field.

If you can tune into your purpose and really align with it, setting goals so that your vision is an expression of that purpose, then life flows much more easily.

~ Jack Canfield

However when these mini-magnets become aligned and they all point in the same direction then this iron bar will become a permanent magnet.  This can be done in several ways, and one simple method is to simply stroke the iron bar with another magnet.  This gradually causes all of the mini-magnets to point in the same direction and become aligned and a permanent magnet is the result.

Once the iron bar has become a permanent magnet then this can be used for all sorts of new purposes, from fridge magnets attaching notes and lists to the fridge door, to a compass which gives direction to navigators, explorers & orienteers, to an electric motor to produce drive to power a lawnmower, a washing machine or a Tesla Model X.

When the tiny magnetic domains or mini-magnets are aligned in our iron bar it becomes a permanent magnet and it can give direction and drive, but when they are not aligned it is just a piece of iron.  

There is something similar happening inside teams, and leaders need to be able to understand this aspect of effective leadership.  Where the domains are aligned we can obtain direction and drive, but when these domains are not aligned then we reap chaos and dysfunction.

The purpose of a team is not goal attainment but goal alignment.  

~ Tom DeMarco

Some years ago I was visiting my local jazz club at a place called Bridge Street Arts Centre, which, as coincidence would have it, was located on Bridge Street in Newcastle-under-Lyme.  The band that I had come to see was called “Barbara Thompsons Paraphernalia”, which with equal coincidence was led by Barbara Thompson on Saxophone.  I remember particularly when Barbara played a saxophone duet, with herself, on two saxophones.  

However, the thing that stands out most strongly from that visit was seeing a guy in the band named Pete, whom I recognised.  We used to hang out with as teenagers when we both played violin in the same orchestra.  When the break came I made a beeline to meet up with Pete and catch up with what he had been doing since we last met.  As it happens my mum still meets up with his mum on a fairly regular basis.

I learned that Pete had become a professional violinist after leaving education, and I was curious to learn about that journey.  After all, when we were in the orchestra together I was considered a better player at the time since I had been the leader of the orchestra and Pete had sat a few rows behind.  in the course of our conversation, I learned about one thing and two words that had helped Pete to make a success of his musical career.

One thing, and two words

The one thing was the one thing that only he could do that would make the biggest difference to his career.  The one thing that only Pete could do to make the biggest difference to his musical career was his violin practice, and he practiced for several hours a day in styles as diverse as classical, soul, dance, easy listening and pop, eventually securing his spot as one of Europe’s most prominent violinists. 

The two words were “Intentional Neglect” because he intentionally neglected anything and everything else until his violin practice had been completed.  He would neglect laundry and washing up, socialising and TV and in today’s terms email and social media, and anything else that would get in the way of his practice.

Unless we pause regularly to realign our lives with our vision and values, we gradually stray off course. 

~ John Maxwell Company 

What is the one thing that only I can do, that only you can do, that would have the greatest impact on my life, on my business, on my career?  What is that one thing with which my team need to be aligned, and that to achieve will cause other things to be neglected?  Find that and you’ll find where your passion and your purpose come together to fulfil your calling.

About Roger Fairhead

Roger is a leadership specialist delivering Leadership for Business Achievement through Speaking, Training and Coaching to business leaders and entrepreneurs.

“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.

Leadership for Business also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.