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How To Embracing Tension In Business

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

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"How to Embrace Tension" in business, based on book "Good Power", by former CEO of IBM, Ginni Rometty In today's fast-paced business world, embracing tension is becoming increasingly important for leaders. Tension is often seen as a negative force in the workplace, but it can be a powerful tool for driving growth and innovation. Ginni Rometty, the former CEO of IBM, has written a book called "Good Power" which explores this topic in-depth. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at Rometty's insights and explore how to embrace tension in business.

First and foremost, it's important to understand what tension is and why it can be a valuable force in the workplace. Tension arises when there are conflicting ideas or priorities within a team or organization. This can be uncomfortable, but it can also be an opportunity to push boundaries and explore new possibilities. Rometty writes, "tension is simply a recognition of opposing ideas, priorities, or values, and the energy that can result from that tension is a creative force."

So, how can leaders embrace tension in their organizations? Rometty offers several insights:

  1. Create a culture of openness and honesty. To embrace tension, team members need to feel comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions, even if they conflict with others. Leaders can foster this culture by encouraging open communication, active listening, and respectful debate.

  2. Recognize the value of diversity. When people with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives come together, tension is almost inevitable. But this diversity can also lead to more innovative and effective solutions. Leaders should strive to create diverse teams and value the unique contributions of each member.

  3. Focus on the bigger picture. When tensions arise, it can be tempting to get caught up in the details of the conflict. But Rometty encourages leaders to step back and focus on the larger goal. "Remind everyone what we're trying to achieve," she writes. "When we put our focus on the bigger picture, it often has a way of pulling us back into alignment."

  4. Embrace discomfort. Tension can be uncomfortable, but that discomfort can also be a sign of growth. Rometty encourages leaders to push themselves and their teams to embrace discomfort, saying "sometimes the only way out is through." By leaning into discomfort, leaders can help their teams push past their limitations and achieve greater success.

  5. Be willing to change course. Tension can also be a sign that something isn't working. Leaders should be willing to change course if tensions persist or if the current approach isn't achieving the desired results. Rometty writes, "sometimes we need to let go of our original plans and be open to new possibilities."


In conclusion, tension doesn't have to be a negative force in the workplace. By embracing it and using it as a tool for growth and innovation, leaders can achieve greater success for themselves and their teams. As Ginni Rometty writes, "Tension can be a catalyst for change, a motivator for creativity, and a driver of progress."

5 Simple Tips for Implementing This Strategy in the Workplace Implementing the strategy of embracing tension in the workplace can be challenging, but with some practical tips, it can become a reality. Here are five simple tips for implementing this strategy in the workplace:

  1. Lead by example: As a leader, it is essential to model the behavior you want to see in others. Demonstrate that you are comfortable with disagreement and encourage debate. This will encourage your team members to follow suit.

  2. Encourage diversity: Embrace diversity by building teams with people from different backgrounds and perspectives. This will help to create an environment where differing opinions are welcomed and encouraged.

  3. Foster open communication: Encourage team members to speak up and express their opinions, even if they disagree with the majority. Create an open-door policy where employees can come to you with their concerns or ideas.

  4. Use team-building exercises: Use team-building exercises to help break down barriers and encourage collaboration. Activities like role-playing, brainstorming, and problem-solving can help to build trust and improve communication.

  5. Provide feedback: Provide regular feedback to your team members on their performance and contributions. This will help them to understand their strengths and weaknesses and provide opportunities for improvement.


By implementing these five simple tips, you can create a workplace environment that encourages the healthy tension that can lead to greater innovation, creativity, and success.

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