Organizing People vs. Aligning People

Welcome to post #2 of our Manager vs. Leader series. If you missed the first post about utilizing a vision to assist in planning, click here to view it now!

Managers develop the capacity to achieve a plan by organizing and staffing–that is, creating an organizational structure and set of jobs for precisely and efficiently accomplishing a plan; staffing the jobs with qualified individuals; communicating the plan to those people and devising a system to monitor implementation of the plan. In today’s highly interdependent, matrix organizations, it is a complex problem to determine reporting structures, accountability and resource allocation.

Trying to get people to understand a vision of an unknown future is even more difficult than organizing individuals around a plan. Aligning people is not a design problem, but rather a communication problem. A leader must communicate the new direction to anyone who can implement the vision or strategies, or can block it, including subordinates, bosses, peers, staff in other parts of the organization, suppliers and customers. Repeated communication occurs using many different vehicles and venues. Understanding and acceptance of the vision by others requires from the leader—both credibility and an ability to communicate in a clear, memorable means.


A broad knowledge of the direction results in an empowered workforce. Using networks of informal relationships, empowered people know how to actually get the work done in a way that few organizing managers can plan. Employees will be more willing to take risks if they know that their actions are aligned with those of the superiors in the organization.

Can you clearly and memorably articulate your project or team vision? As a quick measure of alignment, take a survey of 5 team members and ask them to articulate your vision.

Watch for the third and final part of this series to come your way on Friday! We’ll be discussing our final skill set and helping you get the best results from your team.