Often, executives I work with feel a lot of pressure and the need to produce results. Sometimes they feel they don’t have time or energy for addressing people’s emotional needs. First, they need to attend to business. One client experiencing serious business challenges said, “I need to attend to the fire. Then I can connect later.” However, people had begun complaining about his leadership style and more work was required to reconnect. If he continued along the same path, then there might not be a later opportunity for him.
We are each wired differently and have different preferences. Some of us like to get the work done first and then we have more energy for connecting with people. Others, start their day with the need to feel connection and may reach out for coffee with others and then have the energy to focus on the task at hand.
If we focus on relationships too much then the results are likely to suffer. We never complete the presentation or job. If we focus on task too much, people don’t feel that you care and tend not to trust you. Ultimately, there can be negative consequences, since you may not retain strong people and in the worst case, they may not support your tenure. Trust—the glue of successful teams—requires valuing others, giving empathy and building relationships.
Of course, we always need to attend to both the task and relationships. It doesn’t necessarily require a lot more time—just intention and focus. I liken it to speaking with a puppy and letting it see you have positive intentions before rescuing it if its leg is trapped or if it is in an unsafe place. It takes a moment to pet the pup and speak with a soothing voice before pulling it to safety. The moment of attention can save you from a bite and scratch.
Consider your situation and identify how you are attending to both task and relationship and what balance is needed.