In Part 1, we looked at four words associated with tension. They are: conflict, stress, strain, or pressure. In Part 2 we discussed the word tension and how it can be defined as, “the act of stretching or straining.” Both are action words and both create a pull in different directions; therefore, we get “tension”. Note there is a positive side, “stretching”, and a negative side, “straining”.
Negative tension is a strain on a team, but positive tension will stretch a team. The object is to rid a team of negative tension and foster an environment for positive tension. How is that done? The leader must immediately deal with the negative and never allow it to grow. I call this process the Barney Fife model, “Nip it in the bud.”
Let me share 5 ways to develop positive tension on your team:
- Plan proper balance – I believe it is critical to have a diverse team as I have mentioned in Post 2. Through Personality Assessment tools and personal coaching you can assemble a team that complements each other. They do their part well, but are cross-trained to help their fellow team member when needed. The balance keeps the boat from turning over.
- Promote creativity – Each team member should be qualified and passionate about their area or they shouldn’t be on the team. If that is the case, allow them to share their passions and goals. When positive tension is taking place, the entire team will take their ideas and grow them together.
- Demand accountability – Once the team is in place and the road toward success has been defined, get ready, negative tension will surface. It’s not a question of “if”, but of “when” and “how”. The leader of the team MUST set up a plan of accountability. A checks and balance system keeps things from going down a wrong road too far. Don’t be shy as the leader to deal with something quickly and severely. It may hurt for a moment, but will feel much better in the long run. It will also set the boundaries for the team.
- Allow for personal growth – Every organization should have systems in place that allows everyone to know the rules, objectives, and what a win looks like. When they are in place the leader begins to lead his leaders. In turn each leader begins to train a third layer of leadership. Give each team member opportunity to grow as an individual and the team will grow.
- Focus on a goal – When people get their eyes off of a common goal they will soon define their own individual goal and go in separate directions. Work hard to achieve a team goal then celebrate when it is achieved. When a goal is defined everyone will walk in the same direction. That way when the destination is reached, the entire team will be there. You do not want to leave people behind.
Negative tension will kill you, but positive tension will energize you.
Do you have comments about positive tension?
To read more material by Dr. Agan, go to www.rodneyagan.com