In honor of Halloween, let’s talk about a topic that can seem scary at first glance but is integral to high performing teams: healthy tension.
Healthy tension is allowing team members to speak openly about any subject, to any and all team members, without suffering negative consequences. This is called “zero cost of candor”.
The core of high performance in athletics, the arts, and business is healthy tension. It’s the ability to speak your mind about any situation in ways that feel respectful and make people better. Healthy tension causes leaders to pay attention and keep their competitive edge. The opposite is passive harmony, which allows a culture of compliance, where leaders would rather have safe conversations and allow for poor performance than create tension to improve results.
Meeting time is the most important part of any team. It’s the fastest way to ensure alignment, commitment, and to create open accountability. The pandemic, work from home, and back-to-the office discussions provide a terrific opportunity to improve how your teams meet. If you’re not satisfied with your team meetings – you need to create more healthy tension:
- If one or more people dominates the discussion – you need to demand equal time – where everyone is required to speak their mind.
- If people don’t want to speak their mind, are they the right people in the role or do you create a culture where candor has a high price to pay?
- If plans are never quite completed, and follow-through is soft – are you creating a true spirit of ownership with accountability the whole team shares?
- If half of the participants “hate the meeting,” then what’s the root cause of their dread? Why haven’t you asked?
If you’re having trouble with healthy tension on your team, email Good Leadership at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the ways you can encourage zero cost of candor on your team.