< Return to Quick Notes

Task or People: What Draws Your Attention?

October 24, 2015

What tends to draw your attention first – the work to be done or the people doing it?

Most of us have a reflexive orientation toward one or the other, which becomes more pronounced under stress.  This may seem commonsensical, but it’s important to keep the impacts in mind. The CDR Assessment Group’s research highlights pros and cons associated with each bias:

Those with a stronger task orientation tend to be

  • Direct communicators,
  • Comfortable holding others accountable
  • And good at focusing on the facts, even when making tough calls.

But these leaders can also hold onto grudges, and may be perceived as having an edge or being insensitive.  They may also need to “escape” now and then, which could be interpreted as aloofness if it’s poorly timed.

Those with a stronger interpersonal orientation tend to be:

  • Tactful communicators,
  • Supportive of other’s opinions and efforts
  • And good at building trust and teamwork.

However, these leaders can also be over-protective or avoid giving critical feedback – missing the opportunity to nip performance problems in the bud.  Their sympathetic approach may make it easier for others to take advantage of them.

CDRcompass-rose-297741_640 has found very little difference between how often male senior leaders (on average, 39%) or female senior leaders (on average, 40%) demonstrate a stronger interpersonal orientation.

Both are important – the key is to understand where your focus goes most readily, how this shows up when the pressure is on, and what can help you balance your bias so that it doesn’t become a blind spot.

Remembering to read which one the situation calls for, and adjusting accordingly, will help you make the most of what either orientation has to offer.

Comments are closed.