The Tension

This week’s post was written by Dave Crumrine.
I recently had the opportunity to work with the current EIL class and travel to my electrical peer group. The primary topic of discussion within this group was ‘making change’. During EIL, we discussed the tension between Setting Direction, Aligning and Motivating (SAM) and Planning, Organizing and Controlling (POC). Different initiatives and activities require leaders to utilize different levels of skill. The more SAM is needed, the less POC is effective and vice versa; there is always tension between these ideas.
In my peer group, we talked about the changes we are making and how much we can accomplish at once. Again we discussed the idea of tension between operating well on a daily basis and the need to improve through change and adaptation. Many viewed this idea from the perspective of a team’s time. For instance, if operating at 120% of plan, then there is not much capacity to change or improve. A member of my peer group added some valuable and memorable insight arguing that this isn’t about time, but rather mind share and priority. Managing time is a fool’s errand as we all have the same amount of time; it is a matter of managing individual and corporate priorities. To do so, we must understand our team’s commitments, priorities, and mindset.
Ultimately, we concluded that tension will always be present and in a way it serves as a scorecard for leadership. Are we balancing the needs of serving our clients with the needs to get better for our clients? Are we acknowledging that if we don’t do something, there is a consequence in the future that we must be aware of? If we wish to impact the priorities of our people and help align their efforts, then we must lead! We must talk about the trade-offs and the consequences. We must help our people make trade-offs and equip them to make the right trade-offs.
In summary, there is no perfect mix of change and daily execution, there is only a tension. One that will always exist and require us to lead. It is in place specifically to make us choose and to challenge us to be our best each day and as we continue to adapt.
Where does your team need help working through the tension?
Continue leading the Interstates way!


Dave Crumrine