Why Companies Fail When Leaders Fail to Work Together

2023.07.24 01:49 AM By Joshua Taddeo, Principal Consultant
leaders brainstorming-ideas-together

Large organizations are often compared to a well-oiled machine - each component working in tandem to ensure smooth and efficient operation. However, these components don't function in isolation, and neither can the leaders of these organizations. Steering the ship of a large company requires not just one captain but a unified and well-coordinated team of leaders who can drive the workforce toward the common goal. While easy to understand, this concept of unified leadership is often hard to implement, leading to a cascade of challenges that can destabilize the organization from its core.

The Consequences of Leadership Misalignment 

At its most challenging, leadership at large organizations plays an instrumental role. It is not simply about managing a team but rather guiding the collective effort and energy of the company toward achieving strategic goals. The image of a lone, charismatic leader fearlessly navigating the seas of uncertainty may make for a compelling narrative, but the reality is far more nuanced.


Leadership in large companies cannot, and should not, be a one-person show. It requires all team leaders' aligned, coordinated efforts, each bringing their unique skills, perspectives, and ideas to the table. Together, they weave the fabric of the company's culture, drive its strategic direction, and ensure operational efficiency.


When this alignment falters, or leaders fail to work together, the company can quickly find itself in troubled waters. Misalignment can manifest as strategic inconsistencies, disjointed efforts, employee confusion, and, worst case, plummeting morale. If not addressed promptly, these issues can steer the company off course and even lead to its failure.


In the following sections, we will explore the repercussions of leadership misalignment, the necessity of aligned leadership in large companies, how to build successful leadership teams, how to respond to leadership coordination and alignment breakdowns, and how to balance individual leadership styles with company culture. Our goal is to equip you with the insights needed to cultivate a unified leadership team that prevents your company from faltering and propels it toward unprecedented success.

The Consequences of Leadership Misalignment 

Leadership misalignment, a common issue many organizations face, can stem from various causes. Understanding these root causes can illuminate how to address the problem and prevent its recurrence.

One major cause of misalignment is a lack of clear, shared vision. Without a unified understanding of the company's purpose and objectives, leaders can end up pulling in different directions, causing friction and stalling progress. This divergence often results in teams working in silos, hampering the company's ability to achieve its strategic goals.

In addition, leadership misalignment can occur when leaders prioritize their individual team's success over the company's broader goals. This self-centric approach can cause tension among different teams, resulting in a disjointed, less effective organization. The impact of leadership misalignment can be far-reaching and severe. It can lead to strategic inconsistencies, where different departments or teams work towards conflicting or divergent objectives. This chaos dilutes the overall effort and creates confusion and frustration among the workforce.


Leadership misalignment can breed a toxic work culture. When leaders are not on the same page, it creates an environment of uncertainty and conflict. Employees may receive mixed messages, feel torn between competing priorities, or even feel like they are pawns in power struggles. The fallout of this can be devastating to employee morale and engagement. Employees who feel confused, undervalued, or caught in the crossfire of leadership conflicts are likely to be less productive, less loyal, and less likely to stay with the organization. Over time, this can lead to high employee turnover, poor performance, and a decline in the company's success.

Lastly, leadership misalignment can tarnish a company's reputation. In today's interconnected world, news travels fast. Internal discord can quickly become public knowledge, negatively affecting the company's image and potentially impacting customer loyalty and investor confidence.

Another cause is the absence of open and effective communication among leaders. When leaders do not regularly share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas, it can lead to misunderstandings and mistrust. These can trigger a downward spiral where leaders question each other's motives and decisions, further exacerbating the misalignment.


The Necessity of Aligned Leadership in Large Companies 

The importance of aligned leadership in large companies cannot be overstated. By nature, large organizations are complex entities with various departments, teams, and roles. While necessary for specialization and efficiency, these multifaceted structures can easily result in siloed efforts if not properly managed. Breaking down silos is where the crucial role of aligned leadership comes in.


Aligned leadership ensures that every decision, every action, and every initiative taken within the organization pulls in the same direction toward the shared vision. It establishes a clear, unified roadmap that everyone can follow, from top management to frontline employees. This clarity streamlines operations and fosters a sense of purpose and direction across the organization.

The ripple effects felt when leaders are aligned throughout the organization are palpable. There's an increased sense of collaboration and cohesion as teams understand how their efforts contribute to the broader organizational goals. This understanding breeds a culture of mutual respect and cooperation, replacing silos with synergy.

Aligned leaders can also make more informed, coherent decisions. With a shared understanding of the company's strategic goals, they can better assess the potential impact of their decisions on the overall business. This alignment reduces the risk of conflicting initiatives and wasted resources, improving efficiency and productivity.


Moreover, when leaders work together, they model the behavior they expect from their teams. Employees are more likely to collaborate and communicate effectively when they see these qualities exemplified by their leaders. This culture of collaboration can spur innovation as ideas are shared and combined in new, exciting ways.


Aligned leadership doesn't just enhance internal operations; it also improves business results. Companies with aligned leaders tend to have higher employee engagement and lower turnover rates. Engaged employees are known to be more productive, more customer-focused, and more likely to drive profitability.


Aligned leadership bolsters a company's agility. When leaders are united in their vision and strategy, they can make faster decisions, adapt quickly to market changes, and seize opportunities more effectively. This agility is a significant competitive advantage in today's fast-paced business environment.


In essence, aligned leadership is not a luxury for large companies - it's a necessity. It is the glue that holds the organization together, the compass that points everyone in the right direction, and the engine that propels the company toward its strategic goals.

manager leading video meeting and establishing aligned leadership

The Power of Unity: Building Successful Leadership Teams 

Creating a well-aligned, unified leadership team takes time. It requires conscious effort, ongoing development, and a deep understanding of the importance of alignment. Building a better leadership team is achievable and essential for business success regardless of the starting conditions. Start with setting a clear, compelling vision for the organization. This vision should be understandable and inspiring, acting as the guiding star for all leaders. A shared vision provides a sense of purpose and a clear direction that helps decision-making and aligns leaders at all levels.


Establish open lines of communication among leaders. Effective communication goes beyond mere information exchanges; it involves creating a safe space where leaders can voice their ideas, concerns, and disagreements without fear. Regular meetings, workshops, and retreats can provide forums for this exchange, helping leaders understand each other's perspectives and work towards alignment.

Promote collaboration over competition. Too often, leaders can fall into the trap of prioritizing their team's success over the company's broader objectives. Fostering a culture that values collaborative achievement over individual wins can prevent silos and enhance organizational performance.

Invest in leadership development. Building leadership talent is not a one-time activity; it's a continuous process. Regular training programs, coaching, and mentoring can help leaders refine their skills, adapt to changing business landscapes, and align better with the company's vision and goals.

Encourage feedback and continuous improvement. Creating an environment where leaders can give and receive feedback helps identify alignment gaps and areas for improvement. Leaders must be open to feedback and committed to continuous learning and growth.

The importance of unified leadership teams can't be overstated. They provide clarity and inspiration, driving alignment within the leadership team and the entire organization. When leaders are aligned, their clarity and certainty filter down, inspiring employees and giving them a clear understanding of their roles and how they contribute to the larger picture.

successful business leadership

Unified leadership teams also lead to better business results. They streamline decision-making processes, reduce conflicts, and improve operational efficiency. Moreover, they foster a positive culture, driving higher employee engagement, lower turnover, and greater customer satisfaction. Most importantly, unified leadership teams bring out the best in everyone. They encourage collaboration, spur innovation, and harness the team's collective strengths to achieve the company's goals. The power of unity can be the edge that sets a company apart in complex, modern industries.

Responding to Breakdowns in Leadership Coordination and Alignment 

Despite the best efforts to foster aligned leadership, disagreements and misalignments are inevitable. These can stem from differences in opinions about team direction, company goals, or leadership styles. The key is not to avoid disagreements but to manage them effectively and turn them into opportunities for growth and realignment.


Firstly, open communication is critical. Encourage leaders to voice their disagreements openly rather than letting them fester. This openness can bring underlying issues to the surface, providing a chance to address them before they escalate into major conflicts.


Secondly, prioritize understanding over winning. When leaders are locked in disagreement, fostering an environment of understanding is essential. Each leader should be encouraged to see the situation from the other's perspective. This empathy can often lead to compromise and solutions that respect everyone's viewpoints.

Facilitate dialogue and discussion. Organize dedicated sessions where leaders can constructively discuss their disagreements. A neutral party, like a professional mediator or an executive coach, can help guide these discussions, ensuring they stay focused and productive.


Revisit and reinforce the shared vision. Disagreements often arise when leaders lose sight of the company's overall vision in pursuing their team-specific goals. Regularly revisiting the shared vision can help realign leaders, reminding them they are all working towards the same overarching objectives.


Lastly, remind leaders of their responsibilities to the company as a whole. Leaders must understand that their duty extends beyond their immediate team. They are crucial in driving the company's success, often prioritizing its broader interests over individual team goals. Sometimes, despite the best efforts, a leader may persistently contribute to misalignment. In such cases, making tough decisions for the company's overall health may be necessary. This could involve coaching, reassigning roles, or, in extreme cases, parting ways with the leader.


Effectively handling disagreements and breakdowns in alignment can strengthen the leadership team. It reinforces the importance of unity, demonstrates the company's commitment to maintaining alignment, and provides valuable lessons for future conflict resolution. 

business leaders-meet-together-to-discuss project

Balancing Individual Leadership Style and Company Culture 

Balancing individual leadership styles and company culture can be a delicate task. On the one hand, leaders should be authentic in their leadership style, as authenticity fosters trust and respect among team members. On the other hand, leaders must also embody and promote the company culture, as it sets the tone for the entire organization. The key is finding a balance where individual leadership style complements the company culture rather than contradicts it.


Firstly, understand that leadership style and company culture serve different purposes. Leadership style is a leader's unique approach to guiding, motivating, and interacting with their team. It's personal and individual. On the other hand, company culture is the set of shared values, norms, and practices that shape the organization's identity and modus operandi. It's collective and inclusive.


A leader can have a distinct leadership style while aligning with and promoting the company culture—the secret lies in identifying the intersections between the two. For instance, a leader with a coaching style can thrive in a company culture that values continuous learning and development. However, it's also essential to identify where an individual leadership style is creating conflict with the company culture. For example, while openness is generally encouraged, a leader who is too open about challenges with other teams may also negatively influence their team to be in conflict. If the leader's words turn their team against others, the outcome negatively impacts company culture.

It's also essential to remember that leaders play a significant role in shaping and reinforcing the company culture. Leaders can model the company's values and norms through their actions, decisions, and behaviors, setting a powerful example for their teams.

business leaders-meet-together-to-discuss project

Open communication is crucial in this process. Leaders should regularly discuss and reflect on the company culture with their teams, encouraging them to live the company's values in their daily work. This dialogue also allows leaders to explain their leadership styles, helping their teams understand their unique approach.


Continuous learning and adaptation are also crucial. As the company culture evolves, leaders should be open to refining their leadership style to stay aligned with the company's direction. This refinement doesn't mean changing who they are but adapting their approach to the changing needs of their teams and the organization.

Balancing individual leadership style and company culture is not a one-time effort but an ongoing process of alignment and realignment. It can create a harmonious environment where leaders lead authentically, teams perform optimally, and the company culture thrives. Achieving effective, aligned leadership may be challenging but has immense rewards. Companies that can navigate this journey successfully stand to benefit from improved productivity, higher employee satisfaction, and superior business results.

The Power of Aligned Leadership 

In the rapidly evolving business landscape, the role of aligned leadership in driving organizational success is more critical than ever. The journey to cultivating aligned leadership begins with acknowledging the potential pitfalls of misalignment, understanding its root causes, and being aware of its far-reaching impacts.

Leadership misalignment can stem from various sources, including a lack of shared vision, ineffective communication, and a narrow focus on individual team success. The consequences of such misalignment are severe, affecting strategic consistency, employee morale, and the company's reputation.

However, the necessity of aligned leadership in large companies is indisputable. With alignment, every decision and initiative within the organization propels in the same direction, fostering a sense of purpose and boosting efficiency. Aligned leaders create a culture of collaboration, model desired behavior, enhance business agility, and drive better business results.


Building successful leadership teams is an ongoing process that requires setting a clear vision, promoting open communication, fostering collaboration, investing in leadership development, and embracing feedback and continuous improvement. When leaders unite under a shared vision, they inspire their teams, creating a ripple effect that enhances overall organizational performance.

managing a team

Disagreements and breakdowns in alignment can occur even in the best-aligned leadership teams. The key to navigating these breakdowns lies in promoting open communication, fostering understanding, facilitating constructive discussions, and reinforcing the shared vision and overall company responsibilities. Sometimes, tough decisions may be necessary, but effectively handling disagreements can strengthen the leadership team and provide valuable lessons for future conflict resolution.

Finally, it's crucial to strike a balance between individual leadership styles and company culture. Leaders can stay authentic to their unique leadership styles while promoting and embodying the company culture. Open communication, continuous learning, and adaptation are vital in maintaining this balance.

Cultivating aligned leadership is a journey of constant learning, adaptation, and growth. It's about creating an environment where leaders can bring their unique strengths to the table, work together towards a shared vision, and inspire their teams to do the same. The result is a harmonious, high-performing organization that is well-equipped to navigate the challenges of today's business environment and seize the opportunities of tomorrow.