Is this a Problem to Solve or Tension to Manage?

 funny motivational speakersA certain amount of tension is needed to be productive.

Banter about stress usually revolves around getting rid of tension at all costs. However, some tension is necessary to be productive. Once you resolve the tension, something is lost. 

Conflict and tension are different. Conflict needs to be dealt with or it will fester beneath the surface and undermine performance and morale. Tension is necessary for action, and it needs to be managed.

For instance, for many healthcare organizations the tension between helping patients and the limited resources available, will create a strain on staff that needs to be managed. However, this is not a problem we can solve and move on. Instead, it's a tension that must be regularly managed.

According to leadership motivational speaker Andy Stanley, the question to ask is, does the problem keep resurfacing? Once a problem is solved, it shouldn't keep resurfacing. If it does, this is ongoing tension that needs to be managed because it's not one that will go away. 

Every organizational rhythm or seasonal cycle has tension embodied in it.  When you know something involves a tension to manage, it takes the edge off. Once we label it as tension we know what side of the issue you are on and we can allow the right parties to manage their side.

Minimize the downside in tension, because not all parties can win. Sometimes people just want to be right at all costs, so ask them, Do you want to make the right decision or just your decision? To help them clarify intentions and get on board with the team. 

Leaders need to listen long enough to feel you can understand the other person's position and manage the tension between the two parties, without needed to dissolve it. 

Is your challenge a problem to solve or a tension to manage?


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