What is creative tension and how does it relate to creativity? MIT professor, Peter Senge, defines “creative tension” as the gap between the vision of the future – what could be, and the current reality – what is. If there were no gap, there would be no need for any action to move towards the vision. We would sit still and idle.
Ideation often starts with the tension in the mind–which, in-turn, can be the motivation or catalyst for acting on and/or achieving the stated vision. When leveraged, this (creative) tension can be used to support individuals to seek resolution, move forward, and explore potential to ultimately create innovative products or services that will soon revolutionize our world.
Every company has a storehouse of creativity, but only truly future-forward thinking organizations know how to effectively leverage and support the people that collectively comprise this creative asset. Those special companies know how to:
- Identify and leverage their high potential, change-making employees and their ideas
- Ignite a spark within those key players so they are acting out of commitment and not simply out of compliance,
- Build inclusive practices that fully engage diversity and lead to more collaboration and innovative designs, and
- Foster a culture of authenticity, open-minded and courageous exploration, and relentless ingenuity.
The truly exceptional companies are the ones that have the ability to simultaneously attract, engage and motivate two unique types of individuals:
- The visionaries, dreamers, and game-changing innovators, who are not afraid to fail, and are totally infatuated by their vision of change – to find missing holes in society, untapped opportunities and/or areas that are not functioning effectively in the world
- The analysts, examiners, and relentless realists, who are not afraid to take a good honest look in the mirror and “get real”, and talk honestly and openly about the ways we limit and deceive ourselves from seeing what is.
It is only these extraordinary leaders that understand that you need both the power of the vision and the power of the truth to create the tension. No tension–no motivation to pull us forward. Motivation is about getting people to do what needs to be done because they want to do it. People always perform better when they’re truly dedicated and devoted to the cause.
A lack of motivation can keep us from committing to working harder and smarter, in the workplace, and in life. It keeps us stuck and prevents us from achieving what matters to us most. If there is no motivation, there is no movement.
Being able to have both personality types – the visionaries and the realists– working in lock-step is key to innovative success. So, how do you connect with both types of risk takers, and tap into each of their unique abilities? How do we teach people to be mindful, authentic, and courageous? How do we create masterful marketers who can express and dramatize the juxtaposition of where you want to be when compared with where you are (creative tension)? And how do we connect with the heart and awaken the passion in others to move forward? This is done through developing the skills of leading with emotional intelligence.
Great leaders are able to energize and motivate their followers, while also being able to effectively communicate their vision to everyone. They are able to create an emotional connection, even in this era of electronic connectivity, and this is why a leader who understands the importance of emotional intelligence will often have a considerable advantage when communicating and interacting with others, virtually or otherwise.
Emotional intelligence is about awareness, expression, connection and influence. Creating an emotional bond with the entire person is the key to all business successes – increased employee engagement, richer collaboration, revolutionary innovation, stronger customer loyalty, and optimally, impressive bottom-line results. Emotional intelligence is, quite simply, a work of heart.
Most senior people typically possess superior technical abilities; however, they often lack the skills necessary to get the best from their teams. Therefore, it is extremely important to focus on the skills of working with others to increase the effectiveness of the leaders inside the organization.
In summary, whatever your current organizational challenge is, the answer lies in emotional intelligence. When people throw their hearts into their work, milestones are met, results are surpassed, and employees are engaged. Therefore, it is extremely important for leaders to show their employees how much they care, and teach them to connect with, and lead from, their hearts. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
As a leader, you need to provide the time and space for the whole company to “get read” with itself, and take a good honest look in the mirror in a safe environment.
Collaboratively, you and your team should come together and discuss what’s really going on, connect on a deeper, more authentic level, and search for unified, forward-thinking solutions to your organization’s challenges.
Being aware of your emotions and those of others, and learning to lead with emotional intelligence are skills that can be taught. Emotional Intelligence training is truly the best investment your organization will ever make.
To get started with emotional intelligence training, you can check out our 5-part EQ Leadership Training course. You can also book our Emotional Intelligence Workshop, available in live or virtual delivery.