This blog post is part of our Truity at Work series for those who are new to people management. In these posts, we’re creating useful content for managers and teams alike, helping you to understand personality, improve communication, and navigate conflict and change with ease. For an overview of the series, start with our introductory post here.

When we step into a management or leadership role, we are rarely presented with a blank slate. We are faced with a jigsaw puzzle of competing interests. Everyone has something to say about what your responsibilities should be - your new manager, the person you’re replacing, your new team, not to mention your job description.

As you examine all the pieces, it will quickly become clear you can’t possibly please everyone. Nor should that be your primary objective. A team leader’s purpose is to steer their team in the right direction while removing the obstacles that the organization, or anyone else, attempts to throw in their path. 

What should you focus on first?

In order to not be completely overwhelmed, you must decide what to focus on first and what to leave for later. Start by making a list of all the tasks that appear to be associated with your role and all of the requests being made of you and your team, and then assess each in light of the following:

  • What are the organization's priorities?
  • What are your customers' priorities? 
  • What are your team’s priorities?
  • What is important to each individual member of your team?
  • What is important to you?
  • What’s important to your manager?

Your aim is to sift through these competing requests to decide what is important enough that your team should invest their time and energy into making it happen. As you do so, it can help to have a framework to think about how and where you should focus your time and attention. 

Three types of responsibility

A team leaders responsibilities essentially fall into three main categories:

  1. Achieving outcomes
  2. Developing people 
  3. Navigating for the future 

Achieving outcomes

Here your role is to set the direction for the team, then enable and empower them to make it happen. This means taking the strategy and making it applicable to your team, prioritizing what they need to focus on and deciding what they need to let go of. It is about planning and focus, knowing when to collaborate and when to delegate. It is about ensuring that you and your team deliver results to your customers and stakeholders. 

Required Skills

  • Translating strategy into action 
  • Prioritizing 
  • Planning
  • Delegating
  • Decision making 
  • Removing obstacles 
  • Maintaining oversight 

Developing People

Here your focus is on bringing out the best in your staff and team. That includes hiring, retaining and growing individuals to have the skills, attitude and potential to deliver the necessary results, as well as building a diverse team that can do more as a team than they could individually. 

Required Skills

  • Coaching a diverse range of people
  • Providing positive feedback
  • Identifying and nurturing potential 
  • Celebrating progress and results 
  • Creating a positive working atmosphere

Navigating for the future 

Whether you are a frontline leader or a senior manager, it is necessary to consider the role of your team inside the organization and where it will be needed in the future. It is influencing people outside of the team, as well as preparing the team for the future. Organizations are constantly shifting, and a leader's role is to help their team shift, too. 

Required Skills

  • Influencing stakeholders
  • Communicating clearly and persuasively 
  • Thinking strategically
  • Future planning 
  • Monitoring trends 

The role of personality

While all three areas are equally important to the success of a team, we are likely to feel more comfortable with one or two of those areas, and then neglect the third. Therefore, as you consider what is important for your team and for yourself, make sure you don’t overlook or downplay the importance of your “third” area.

Let’s use the Temperaments to illustrate this point.

Artisans (xSTPs and xSFPs) tend to find it easier to focus on what needs to be done and how to make it happen. Creating a positive work environment and giving positive feedback come relatively easily to them. But other aspects of developing people and navigating for the future may not seem as important as achieving outcomes.

Guardians (xSTJs and xSFJs) take a more structured approach to planning the team’s objectives. They tend to be comfortable coaching team members individually, but may overlook the need to influence external stakeholders or monitor future trends. 

Rationals (xNTPs and xNTJs) naturally focus on long term strategy and things that might undermine it. They may not put enough attention into achieving outcomes, believing that once the strategy is clear everything else will fall into place. Once they understand the capabilities required to achieve the strategy, they invest time in developing people. 

Idealists (xNFps and xNFJs) focus on developing people through coaching, creating a positive environment and nurturing potential. They may need to place a little more focus on achieving the outcomes and managing obstacles. 

Knowing your limits

As a manager, it is easy to feel squeezed between the needs of your team and the demands of your manager and of the wider organization. If you try to please everyone, you will eventually burn out and your team will, too. Learning to set your priorities and stick to them will be a key skill for the success of your team, your career, and maintaining your sanity in an incredibly busy world. 

Remember you can’t do it all at once, so assess which of the above skills you are already good at and which one you want to develop next. And maybe, the most important skill of all is being able to say no to people’s demands and have them appreciate you for it (or at the very least, not be annoyed).  

Want to learn more about your leadership strengths and blindspots? Head over to our Truity@Work Testing for Business page and start assessing the personalities and work styles of yourself and your team. If you would like to go beyond the assessment, Truity offers a custom training session to help you better understand your results in a live, facilitated Zoom-based workshop. Schedule your session today.

Samantha Mackay
Samantha is a certified Enneagram coach at Individuo and educator at Truity. She has found knowing her personality type (ENTP / Enneagram 7) invaluable for recovering from burnout and for working with her anxiety, chronic illnesses and pain. To work with Samantha visit www.individuo.life