Align the incentives of each leader to boost the team as a whole.

So we now know that every leader in your team should have her own purpose. However, it’s also vital that these purposes allow team members to work with, not against, each other.

In other words, you must achieve alignment among your team members. Alignment is how your team and its elements work together.

To get a better idea of what alignment looks like, let’s consider an unaligned team.

An organization says that they’re shifting focus to improving the quality of their products. But little attention is given to improving quality, and the focus remains on maximizing productivity. At management meetings, the focus is on the quantity of work, not the quality. And at the end of the year, bonuses are awarded to the teams that performed best, including one who scored, out of all the company’s teams, second-lowest in quality but highest in productivity.

This unaligned situation only confirmed the employees’ suspicions that management didn’t really care about quality. The company’s senior executives eventually realized their mistake, but they had lost the employees’ trust and it took many years to make up for it.

So, how to avoid this? By creating alignment.

Take the above example. The management should’ve aligned the teams toward making higher quality products: That means considering which principles would guide the teams’ focus toward improving quality, which strategies would improve quality, which specific projects or technologies were needed to optimize quality and which rewards would entice teams to produce at a higher quality.

If everyone had striven for quality, all design and behavioral incentives would’ve been in accordance in the team.

And that would’ve meant that everyone was working toward the same goal: shared success.