The Tension Connection

Tight shoulders. Strained relationships. Visions not yet achieved. Public disclosure of private struggle. Tension is exhausting unless, It’s invigorating.

What’s A Tension Map?

After reading Steven’s Snyder’s new book, Leadership and the Art of Struggle, I wanted to know more about his theory of positive and destructive tension. So we connected to talk about vision, experiences, maps and tension.

My key take away: The right pressures in the right combinations create positive Flow.

Steven describes several sources of tension which he maps into quadrants. We experience “tensions of tradition” when we work to challenge and disrupt our team’s patterns. We may feel the “tensions of aspiration” when we have conflicting visions or goals for the future. These can be good, or the source of deep struggle.

I asked Steve to share more just how can those tight shoulders lead to “flow” What would I want my map to look like?

“Maps which show moderate to moderate-high levels of aspirational tension, lower levels of Tradition Tension and very low levels of Relationship or Identity Tension are which i would call “Flow”. Tension maps which show low levels of all tensions are not producing enough tension to motivate high levels of achievement.
With respect to higher levels of tension. This is a struggle. There is not an “ideal” type of struggle. everyone struggles differently. The point is that the tension map can tell you what to do about it.”

Make Your Own Map

If you’re curious as to how this all works, you can get in on a free pilot of Steve’s online assessment, Adaptive Leader Profile. You go online, answer some questions about yourself and your situation, and he will send you back a free map and interpretation. The only caveat is that you need to wait until he get’s enough data to ensure validity (hey, it’s a pilot).

I took it, and am looking forward to the report. Like you, I’ve got plenty of pressure worth mapping.

For great synopsis and overviews of Snyder’s book checkout these posts by Jon Mertz or Bill George. Or download a free chapter.