Healthy Tension

Discussions around company culture tend to focus on values and behavior.   These are the outward indications of the mores, conduct and attitudes of its leaders and employees.  Much energy can be spent on defining, communicating and policing these behaviors.  This is how a company “walks the talk”. What about the internal motivators that elicit the behaviors that develop culture?  In particular, how do you promote a “healthy tension” –the balance between energy and stress that motivates people towards company goals in a way that reflects its values?

This topic came up in a member One2One the other day.  His challenge was a creating a sense of urgency—a spirit that induces performance but does not create paralyzing stress.  How do you incent employees to focus on goal achievement with enthusiasm, especially when numbers are down and goals are not being met?

Our realization was that it starts at the top, meaning the owner or CEO.

Pressure is inherent in running a business.  Allocating resources, focusing on production and profits, investing in human and physical capital, launching a new line, etc. all create stress.  How you react to that pressure is obvious and imitated by the people who report to and follow you.  Many times the behaviors that we dislike or admire in others are a reflection of our own being.

Aside from the effects on our own health and well-being, we must be aware of how our behavior affects those around us and develop into the culture of the company.  Remember, Values + Behaviors = Culture.  Many times we think we are handling stress well but our persona gives off a different message.

On the negative side our reaction to stress can manifest as despair, denial, wishful-thinking or paralysis which results in under-performance.  When channeled positively, it results in inspiration, motivation and hope which results in high-performance.  This is when the concept of “leader as coach” comes into play.  Ask yourself how you maintain a healthy internal tension that is credible and motivating to others.

A Convene team is a great and safe place to ask those questions, surrounded by peers who will give you honest feedback because they genuinely care for your personal and company success without a bias or personal stake in the results.  How would that enhance your business and personal performance?

“Knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance proven character, and proven character hope, and hope does not disappoint.”  Romans 5:3-5