Create Passion not Tension

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Employees around us complain of stress and tension. Some of it is self inflicted but most of it is imposed by their managers or leaders. Why do leaders create tension ? I have never understood this phenomenon. It could be due to genuine inability to keep their stress to themselves or their lack of self confidence. It could also reflect on their inability as a leader. Some leaders also believe that they can get the best output from their team if they create tension. The contrary may be true in reality.

What should managers do to get the best from their team members ? Managers should create a vision and then infuse passion in their team. The vision will give direction to their team and the passion will take them towards their common vision. So, managers need to realise that they can get the best from their team if they create passion, not tension.

What happens when you create tension for your team ? First and foremost, nobody wants to work for you in the long term. Second, your team will lose their self confidence and will falter at every turn of a project. They will dread failure and will run away from your team at the first possible opportunity. Nobody enjoys stress and that too from his or her manager.

Stress leads to tension and this in turn leads to negativity in the team. The environment drains the energy of the team and everyone ends up finding fault with each other. Most of the deadlines are not met. There is no positive vibes in the team. The attrition in such teams will be the highest. Most of the team members will look for opportunities outside and will ditch the time at the first possible instance.

On the other hand, what happens to teams, where leaders create passion. It’s fun to work in such teams. The leader generally raises the bar. They create a very enviable vision along with the team. The team is party to the co-creation of the vision. This ensures that every team member is passionate about how they can contribute to attaining that collective vision.

Positivity is the second name of such teams. Everyone around wants to join such teams. They are willing to sacrifice from short term benefits to work in such teams. Money, time or resources are never a constraint in such teams. We typically see this in start ups. The promoter or a leader shares a brilliant idea. Then they work with the team to visualise the future together. Once this is done, there is nothing which can stop the team members give their best to achieve the team’s success.

I am not one stating that it is absolutely not necessary to set stretched targets to your team. In times of crisis, an atmosphere of urgency is needed to deliver results. Army commanders at the front line command by inspiration. Their commitment is leadership by example. They do not put their foot soldiers in front and stay behind. Similarly, good leaders will lead from the front. Even when they create a sense of urgency, their team members are keen to contribute their best and do not reel under tension.

As in the photo above, if someone is passionate about cycling, they will do it every day and not consider it a tension to maintain their health.

All of us are or would be team leaders in the future. It is important to remember that stress and tension creates negative energy. Passion and vision creates positivity. As managers and leaders we have to create a positive culture infused with fun at the workplace. This may be easier said than done. But once we are able to create this environment, we need not bother. The team gallops even when we want them to walk. If we struggle to do it by ourselves, we can learn from the best leaders around us.

Let us try to live our passion every day.

S Ramesh Shankar

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