vPsychology for Business

We are dedicated to bringing out the best in you and your employees

Volume 3, Number 10                                                                                                      May 17, 2002



Psychology for Business is a free e-mail newsletter written by Dr. Lynda Dahlke (mailto:ldahlke@psychologyforbusiness.com),  Dr. John Weaver (mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com), and Dr. Paul Glass (mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com),  business psychologists and independent consultants. It is published bi-weekly. You’ve received this newsletter because you’ve subscribed to it or it was forwarded to you by a friend or colleague. To subscribe sign up at our website,
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Archives:  All of our previous newsletters are archived at http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/eNewsletter.htm.  Check out the series on The Vitamin C’s of an Emotionally Healthy Workplace, the series on Dealing with Difficult Employees, links to our Published Articles and our newest series, Triple "A" Leadership.


By Dr. Lynda Dahlke, Business Psychologist and Coach


In Part I of my thoughts on leadership I encouraged you to develop touchstones for effective performance in a leadership role.  Highlighted were principles you could use as resources in decision-making; the first of which was awareness.  This issue will look at the second of the three; alignment.  A future issue will discuss accountability.  All of these comprise what I call TRIPLE “A” LEADERSHIP. (You will be able to locate the entire series as they are written by visiting our newsletter archives at www.psychologyforbusiness.com/eNewsletter.htm.)  

I believe that nature offers us important lessons, so once again I will return to the ocean-an effective teacher to be sure.  If you sit on a beach and observe the pattern of waves rolling in (I hope you are doing things like this now in order to access your own voice, see Triple “A” Leadership, Part I), you will notice that they are not in exactly parallel, but close.  When the waves are coming in at significantly different angles, there is some wasted force, as well as the creation of dangerous cross currents.  When you observe a flock of pelicans soaring along the air above the water, they are in a pattern, but not always the exact same one.  When snorkeling you can observe schools of fish swimming in the same direction, often changing course abruptly if a predator is sighted.  Again, they are swimming in a pattern but not a “perfect predictable” pattern.  These are examples of alignment.

What would happen to the pelicans if they did not have the same flight plan?  Have you noticed them crashing into each other?  What about the fish… when they need to change direction quickly do they bump into each other or do they turn and regroup quickly?  From nature we can gather many examples of alignment at work.  Waves, fish, and pelicans have been around a lot longer than organizations.  Perhaps there is something to be said for this “alignment” idea!


To me, alignment means “ pulling together” as in a crew shell when the coxswain announces “stroke, stroke, stroke…”  If left on their own, the members of the crew team would probably pull at a similar rate, with similar timing, but the result is not as effective as when the effort is coordinated.  This is a reflection of maximized alignment.  In nature, i.e. waves, pelicans and fish, alignment is approximate.  This affords some variation or innovation, yet keeps everyone moving in the same direction with the same goal.  Parallel wave patterns are not the same, flight patterns of pelicans are not the same and schools of fish swim in infinitely different patterns, yet all reflect alignment

In an organization alignment is a group of people, namely the employees, all working toward common, shared and discussed, goals.  The patterns of this alignment are infinite, but they are understood so that “crashing” into each other does not occur on a regular basis.  Maximized alignment (i.e. crew shell performance) may not be what is desired in an organization because it may not allow for innovation and individual organizational differences.  However, a healthy amount of alignment is necessary for effective organizational performance.  Alignment can be a collaborative pattern that is unique, as long as efforts are coordinated.  The amount of resources wasted in organizations not aligned toward goal achievement is staggering.  Lost profit, wasted time, decreased market share, turnover of personnel, poor morale are all “crashing pelicans and fish and dangerous cross currents”.



-What level of alignment exists in your organization?

-Ask employees if they know where the organization is going and how their specific,
 daily tasks contribute to reaching the destination

 -Look at the indicators of alignment
            -rate of employee turnover
            -profits; costs
            -market share/sales volume
            -number of new products developed


As a leader in your organization, one of your most important duties is to LEAD.  Among the best ways of doing this is to emphasize the goals of the organization and behave in a manner consistent with their achievement.  Align the decisions you make with the goals of the organization and encourage other managers to do the same.  When you find yourself at a crossroad—look at the vision and goals for the answer.

Repetition cannot be overdone.  Remember when you were struggling to learn a foreign language?  You were encouraged to repeat, repeat, and repeat.  This is a good way for individuals to assimilate or “take in” the vision and goals of the organization.  It has been said that one test of fluency is to dream in the foreign language.  Hopefully, your employees will know the goals so well that their minds will slip easily into using them as everyday guidelines.


“But we don’t have time for this…”
I argue that you cannot afford NOT to do this.  
“What is the purpose of employees getting to know each other?  They will only waste more time on personal

Think about it.  Are you more likely to work in concert with those you know something about?  One barrier to alignment is fear.  Fear of the other person’s agenda; fear they will take our power; fear they will “win” and we will “lose”.  A good way to neuter fear is to let people know something about each other.  When we don’t know anything about another person, it is human nature to create ideas about the other in the absence of real data. 

So, although I do not advocate all employees being “best buddies”, I do believe it is imperative to collaborative alignment that employees know something about the agenda and personality of those they are expected to work with closely.  Voice mail, e-mail, and memos have their place, but nothing beats an occasional face-to-face meeting.


We are not pelicans, fish or waves.  As humans, we have the gift of communication via language and the written word.  In order that organizations share a vision and goals, communication needs to flow freely in ALL directions.  Alignment depends upon it.   Can I know how you understand and interpret the vision and goals if we do not communicate?  How are we expected to collaborate our efforts if we are potentially heading towards two (or more) different destinations, or see those destinations in a very different manner?  Innovation flourishes in organizations where these discussions are the norm rather than the exception.

So, take a look at your team and your organization.  Are you in collaborative alignment?  Or are you more like crashing pelicans, confused fish or dangerous crosscurrents?  Alignment starts from the top.  What is your leadership legacy?

Did you know that executive coaching is not geographically limited?  Coaching by telephone is effective.  It is also an efficient use of time and resources.  You never need to leave your office to travel, nor do you need to pay travel expenses for your coach. In a recent study of executive coaching in a multinational company, the return on investment was calculated to be 529%!  If financial benefits from retention of employees were included, the ROI jumped even higher, to 788%.  To find out if coaching is right for you, contact us to schedule a FREE 1/2 hour consultation.  Call us at: (262) 789-2728 or email us at

About the Author

Lynda Dahlke, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and business consultant with over 20 years of practical experience working with individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds and levels of responsibility. She excels at delivering concise, actionable guidance and recommendations. Lynda specializes in pre-employment assessment, professional coaching, conflict management, assisting organizations to work with difficult individuals and personalities and organizational diagnostics/consulting.

Based in Waukesha, WI, Dr. Lynda Dahlke is available for consultation or coaching by phone, e-mail or in person. She may be reached at (262) 789-2728 (office), by e-mail at

Lynda Dahlke, Ph.D.
Psychology for Business
200 South Executive Drive, #101
Brookfield, WI 53005-4216


Save your company big money!  Reduce the frustrations of your managers.  Learn what works. Hot off the press: Your first practical guide to Managing Difficult Personalities in Your Workplace!  Very user friendly.  Extremely practical. Order your copy of this new book, Managing Difficult Personalities in the Workplace: A Manager’s Practical Guide, by Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass.

Send your name, address, number of copies desired and a check made out to Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass for $12 per book (plus $2 shipping per book).  Or order 10 or more copies for $10 per book and $6.95 for shipping (up to 50 copies).  No fluff, this book gets right to the point.

Send orders to:

Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass
Psychology for Business
2717 N. Grandview Blvd. #303
Waukesha, WI 53188   

Phone: (262) 544-6486    Fax: (262) 544-6377    Email: mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com

To order the booklet: 41 WAYS TO IMPROVE THE EMOTIONAL HEALTH OF YOUR WORKPLACE, send a check for $6 and a self-addressed, double stamped business size envelope to:

Dr. John Weaver
Psychology for Business
2717 N. Grandview Blvd. #303
Waukesha, WI 53188

If you would like to order multiple copies, send an email to mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com to request a price sheet.  Order in quantity and save.


Announcing FREE one hour virtual classes by telephone conference call (you only pay for long distance telephone charges, usually $4 to $6 per class):

Friday, June 14, 2002 at 1:00 PM Central Standard Time:

It is not enough to react to a violent action after it has occurred. In this seminar we will discuss practical steps your organization can take to lower the risks for this terrible tragedy. Included will be information about resources for your organization.

To register: Send an email to mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbuisnes.com?subject=RISK. Please include your name, your organization and your email address.  Upon registration you will receive the telephone conference number to call and instructions for how to connect.


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If you would like to learn more about Dr. Lynda Dahlke, Dr. John Weaver, and Dr. Paul Glass please visit us at our website: http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/.


© Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. Lynda Dahlke. Distribution rights: The above material is copyrighted, but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. If you would like to reprint part of this newsletter please contact me at
mailto:ldahlke@psychologyforbusiness.com to make arrangements.           

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Dr. John Weaver
publishes another newsletter, co-authored by Darlene Weaver, THE CENTERED PENDULUMIt is our firm belief that lifelong patterns of “being” (personality, attitudes, emotions) and “doing” (lifestyle, adaptability, coping skills) interact with our genes and environment to create conditions of a healthy or a diseased brain.  If you would like to read previous issues of the Centered Pendulum newsletter or to subscribe, please visit the archives at http://www.centeredpendulum.org/newsletters.htm.