Strategic Vertical Alignment

3 min. readlast update: 05.22.2024

What steps do you and your organization take to align vertically?

A strategy pyramid is a visual tool to help guide your organization execute its plans. Elements include:

  • Mission - Why We Exist
  • Values - What's Important to Us
  • Vision - What We Want to Be
  • Strategy - Our Game Plan
  • Strategy Map - Translate the Strategy
  • Balanced Scorecard - Measure and Focus
  • Targets and Initiatives - What We Need to Do

Vertical alignment within any organization is essential. Business unit objectives at the department level should vertically integrate and align with organization-wide goals.


As teams collaborate through cross-pollination of thought and execution, the financial arm plays an ever-increasing role given its unique lens. This is where financial professionals can position themselves as a value-add. As one ascends into higher levels of management and leadership roles, a shift occurs in competency requirements. A controller, for instance, can transition into a CFO and business partner by developing and polishing leadership and broader business skills.

Business Competency

The following are categorized business competencies that professionals can leverage to position themselves as a value-add for their organization. Again, the emphasis and requirements for each category changes depending on role. A healthy and balanced blend of the competency areas enables a win-win for teams with the desired outcome of vertical alignment.

Technical Skills

Technical skills are fundamental to every profession, especially financial. Finance professionals are experts in recording, processing, and analyzing financial information to share with various stakeholders, both internal and external.

Leadership Skills

Leadership skills transcend position. It's important to recognize when to follow and when to lead, whether peer-to-peer or strategic leadership.

Business Skills

Business skills should be understood by all finance professionals. Every transaction flows through the finance department. Financial professionals can leverage their knowledge of the business environment as they transform data into information and insight. A deeper understanding of various business functions enables companies to align department-level objectives and outcomes with organization-wide mission and strategies. This leads to improved performance and better positioning the business for the future.

People Skills

People skills include one's ability to collaborate, influence decisions, communicate and present both written and orally.


Digital/technology skills are ever-changing. Business and finance professionals should remain relevant, agile, and adaptable to keep pace with technology advancements. Digital skills, liken to leadership, permeates all knowledge and functional areas.

The right leadership, blend of competency at various levels, and to quote Jim Collins, "the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats" positions organizations to align vertically.

What steps do you and your organization take to align vertically?

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