The Role of the Chief Alignment Officer
Growth creates more complexity. More funding → more headcount → more functions/departments → more revenue → more experiments. The number of opinions, decisions, relationships, and friction points grows exponentially.
Left unaddressed, this creates pressure on a leadership team. Work expectations begin fragmenting across business units. New hires don’t integrate with the existing teams. Teams stay in their lanes and don’t proactively work together. Cultures can become bureaucratic, slow-moving, and process-heavy. As such, leadership team presence gets in high-demand to figure it all out.
Enter the role of Chief Alignment Officer. This role exists to help their company get clear on what they are truly aiming to achieve and to empower the company to drive results. They integrate the company into a single unit by getting disparate teams working together. They implement systems to help improve communication and employee retention. The role reports to the CEO and sits on the leadership team.
What would a Chief Alignment Officer do?
- Ensures the company vision and values are clear and transparent to the whole company.
- Facilitates annual and quarterly planning and goal-setting cadences.
- Ensures roles, responsibilities, and decision autonomy is clear and executed.
- Designs decision-making frameworks for common company decisions.
- Ensures the company, business units, departments and teams have clear measures of success that are tracked.
- Supports smooth flow of communication for large company decisions.
- Surfaces systemic and cultural issues and drives the organization to resolution.
- Facilitates safe conversation between disparate teams and helps resolve cross-departmental conflict.
- Trains company managers to set clear expectations and prioritize resources.
- Trains company managers to evaluate employee performance, give/receive feedback, and conduct 1-1s.
- Helps managers evaluate great and poor employee fits.
- Surveys employees for engagement and improvement opportunities.
- Cultivates buy-in and helps all voices be heard and considered.
How would success of the Chief Alignment Officer be measured?
- Employee engagement improves
- Higher employee participation in goal-setting systems
- Increase in % goals completed per quarter
- Company/department KPIs improve
- Higher employee retention for A players
- Lower employee retention for B and C players
- Higher % of team leader time spent on priorities and strategic work (not individual contribution)
This role is invisible today, scattered across executives, managers, and consultants. But what would happen if this role was an explicit, full-time hire? How might an organization change? What would happen to its people? This type of role is an investment that pays back over time, and I think specific results would emerge:
The company chooses a direction, executes towards it, and gets to the next stage of growth faster. Teams trust each other more and have more productive conflict. The right people stay and the wrong people leave. Employees are happier and more engaged. Less politics and more focus on performance. The true company culture emerges as a differentiating factor.