Pressure Makes Diamonds

In a conversation with a CEO to prepare for a strategic meeting, we proposed a new approach to ask people to rate their peers’ performances over the last quarter, make observations about what they have done well and suggest how they might improve.

When we discussed the idea, someone said that some people might be uncomfortable doing this is such an open and transparent way.

The CEO, with whom we’ve worked together for a long time, and I looked at each other and smiled – and I knew what he was thinking.

In the past, we’d been in many situations where tough decisions needed to be made that required hard work. He had a lot of success, then, creating a lot of positive tension as he led his organization through those challenging times. And, while some team members weren’t comfortable, they persevered and succeeded – and their performance improved.

And that’s why we knew that, in this case – because we were in a room full of high performers – positive tension would create positive outcomes.

The Sweet Spot of Highest Potential

A CEOs job is to create positive tension in the organization.

Not so much that performance is diminished, and people’s abilities are paralyzed. But enough to put people into the sweet spot of their highest potential. Tension that increases focus and creativity so that they perform better and, ultimately, increase the organization’s growth and value.

Your A Players will visibly thrive, and you will quickly be able to see who is not able to step up and perform at a higher level.

If a CEO doesn’t create regularly create positive tension, they become more like an administrator, and growth will likely slow, decline or, potentially, stop.

Clear Goals & Accountability

That’s why, in the strategic planning process, it’s critical that your organization is aligned and committed to where it wants to be in three years.

The excitement and tension are created when the teams are locked, loaded and fully committed to achieve those great things.

Then, you cascade down to build out the annual and quarterly goals to get there. And, ideally, a quarterly score card for each executive and key leader, that clarifies their personal contribution, every 90 days, toward the team’s bigger commitment.

In one company, we even had the team plan how they would celebrate together as a team, and as a company, when they reached that amazing milestone.

The Challenge

    • What could you do to apply more positive attention to achieve your most important company or department/divisional goals?

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