Creative tension is the force that generates creativity and inspired action in people
Entrepreneur, Startup CEO Coach, Team & Culture Expert
One of the most powerful and important functions of a leader is generating creative tension.
Generate creative tension by holding tightly current reality juxtaposed with desired future state.
Lesson: Team & Culture with Dave Kashen
Step: #10 Creative Tension: Creative tension is the force that generates creativity and inspired action in people
One of the most powerful and important functions of a leader, that I think is least understood, is generating creative tension. So I'll explain what I mean by that. So, creative tension is the force that literally generates creativity and inspired action in people. The way you create creative tension is by holding really tightly current reality on the one hand, and the future state you want on the other. So I'll explain what I mean by holding really tightly.
So you want to be profoundly clear and grounded in current reality. What is so? How am I feeling? What am I experiencing? What's the data? Where are we? Really, where are we?
In this regard I see founders and leaders do a few things that slip them up. One is they take this future state that they so want, and they collapse it into the present and get frustrated that they're not already there, and then spend all this time focused on the gap and draining their energy on the gap between.
It's really useful to just say, "What is so right now, is just so." You might as well accept it and appreciate it because it's just what's true. So, on the one hand get really clear, first with yourself and then with other people about what is true right now, what’s current reality.
Then on the other hand, get strongly convicted. Choose to have a really, really deeply held belief that this future state you want is going to happen. So, it's easier said than done, and the trick of it is that when we imagine this future state and we don't know how to get there, we don't know the path, what comes up is this fear of being wrong, of failing, of shame. So we think, "I need to know how to get to this future state in order to believe it, much less to then sell it and convince other people of it." The irony is that the "how" is by believing in it and by boldly declaring it to other people because that's what generates this creative tension that has you just popping ideas and figuring it out.
When you do that with your entire team and customers and investors, suddenly they're all excited about achieving this future state that you don't yet know how to achieve. If you knew how it'd just be kind of boring and easy, and I think that's most of the game. I think that's one thing that most distinguishes the most effective startup leaders from others, and conveniently it is also one of the most powerful recruiting tools there is. If you can look someone in the eye and say, "We are going to do this,” it's just so powerful to be that kind of leader and the world is hungry for those kind of leaders.