When we have children at home, we have to learn, not without many mistakes and emotional roller coasters, that one of the keys of parenthood is to keep the balance between being “mother / father” and being “Mom / dad”.
So necessary is “push” to demand the best from each, as “hold” to accompany during pain or play when is needed.

In the same vein the leader of a team must also achieve this balance in his intervention. Peter Senge defined as creative tension, the impulse that makes us go out of our comfort zone to another unknown dimension for us (and therefore uncomfortable) that brings us closer to our vision or ultimate goal. The leader must build an environment and dynamics that will help to creative tension of the members of the team.

For that, it is essential transfer the full responsibility to the members for their development. There are a number of elements that support this assumption of responsibility by the team members.


How to create creative tension in the team?

  • Establish an action plan to create creative tension in the team. One of the mistakes of many teams is not to have an action plan, with concrete and measurable indicators that show the evolution of development or growth thereof. Therefore it is not only trying to measure productivity or results, but also check regularly how is the team evolving as a high performance team. Thus, it has to be measured on a regular basis not only “what” we get, but also the “how” we got it. This plan must be made by its members and ratified by all


  • Assign the figure of “observer” of the creative tension in the team. The responsibility within a group can be diluted without a guarantor system of the presence of this creative tension. For it, will be important that there is a team member to take charge of this. This person should “provoke” the system when is necessary for that the creative tension desired by the team is present. Depending on the team and its nature it will decide whether the role is always with the same person or rotates among the different members. The really important role is motivating and inspiring attitude of it, and not just the performed actions.


  • Perform a close monitoring of the creative tension in the team. As it says, there is no better plan that the one running. That is why, the action plan to generate creative tension should be checked regularly and systematically to check how the indicators are fulfilling. It will be key for the team to do regular meetings (albeit brief) to speak only of how they can continue developing, increasing the productivity and positivity, key factors to create creative tension. Normally teams only perform operational meetings and lose the opportunity to adjust internal mechanisms that make them more productive even in the future.



  • Compensate the energy during the productive process of the team. So necessary it is tighten the team as give shelter and offer air. The leader must have a good nose to know which actions he must run. This is one of the most complex aspects of leadership, because what is now necessary for the team may cease to be in a few days, or even hours. Being flexible to these movements of the system and not clinging to any agenda or static rule will be the keys for the leader. In any case it must be alert to the emotional detonations, or what we call the emotional field, to see which is more appropriate at all times. Some ways to do this are:


  1. From time to time and during a team meeting remember the need to maintain a balance between the two powers: pushing and holding, probing what is needed each times.



  1. During a process or transcendent situation for the team, we must ask its members to rate the degree of creative tension that is living and what is the impact on the team and outside of it. A simple way to encourage reflection in this direction is asking them to value how they are living this expressing a score between “0” (unbalanced tension, in excess or absence) and “10” (adjusted and integrated tension). Encourage reflection in this direction will strengthen the co-responsibility of all members to their common performance as a team.



  1. In some samples of blockade of the team because excessive “tension”, we must loose and seek moments of relaxation and recognize the work and the achieved progress. One way to do it, is that the team agree by consensus before starting a major project or a challenging situation, the prize that will be given or how they will celebrate when the achieved successful outcomes arrive.


Enric Arola