Positive Tension on a Team

Tug not War – Part 3

In Part 1, we looked at four words associated with tension. They are conflict, stress, strain, or pressureIn 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 not allow it to grow. I call this process the Barney Fife model, “Nip it in the bud.”

Negative tension is a strain on a team, but positive tension will stretch a team Share on X

Let me share 5 ways to develop positive tension on your team:

Develop team balance – I believe it is critical to have a diverse team as I have mentioned in Post 2. Through personality and behavior assessments, team development 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. Because they are different, there may be tension; but because they work together, it is positive tension.

Promote individual creativity – By proper talent selection methods, each team member should be not only qualified but passionate about their role. If they do not feel that way, you may need to ask yourself why they on the team in the first place. Each team member should be given the flexibility and opportunity to share their passions, goals, and ideas. When the leader learns to leverage the various strengths of each member, positive tension takes place. Positive tension turns a normal team into a phenomenal team. 

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Expect personal 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 balances” 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. When a leader is not afraid to lead, it reveals the boundaries to the team so they won’t cross them.

Invest in 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. The team’s level of commitment is based on the leaders level of investment. Invest in your team.

Positive tension turns a normal team into a phenomenal team. Share on X

Celebrate achievement – 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. Your goal as a leader is to lead the entire team to a destination. If they are all working as a team, once the destination is reached, the entire team will be there. Never leave your team behind.

Negative tension will kill a team, but positive tension will energize it.

Check out: Tug not War – Part 1 and Part 2