Tension and stress are essential parts of living and working. Without them, we would in many cases fail to become motivated to take action. Peter Senge coined the phrase “creative tension” to describe what happens when there is a wide gap between our current reality and our vision for the future. Does your management team handle stress or tension creatively? If not,it may become the opposite…destructive tension.

Here are some tips for establishing “creative tension” on your team:

  • Create a real and compelling vision, that describes an end result only, leaving out the “how to” or means to achieve it
  • Assess your current reality as it relates to the vision: how wide is the gap?
  • Make the vision versus current reality a top item on your management agenda
  • Keep assessing the gap: is it getting narrower or wider?
  • Deploy resources and take creative actions, i.e. strategic initiatives, to narrow the gap (Note: many organizations skimp on their strategic initiatives but eventually pay the price)
  • Hold each team member accountable for playing their part in narrowing the gap

Creative tension is just that: creative. If the tension or stress on your management team ever pushes your team towards destructive behaviors, jump straight in, resolve the conflict and set about creating solutions that take you closer to achieving your vision.