7 Key Strengths of Task-Oriented Leadership

7 Key Strengths of Task-Oriented Leadership

The task-oriented leadership style is often a bit controversial when it comes to leadership styles. When compared to people-oriented or relationship-oriented leadership, it is quite often seen as narrow-minded and blunt. While that may be the case, it still has its place in the realm of leadership. 

The great NFL Coach Vince Lombardi demonstrated it best when he said

“Winning isn’t the only thing. It’s everything.”

Coach Lombardi proves to be a prime example in task-oriented leadership. His task? Winning. His method? Do whatever it takes to get the job done.

What is task-oriented leadership?

Task-oriented leadership is a directive style of leadership specifying tasks and goals. Task-oriented leaders provide steps and a plan to meet the goals of an organization. In task-oriented leadership, the leader can achieve a specific standard of performance in their direction. You can choose task-oriented leadership as a style to incorporate your management skills in the business.

Task-oriented leadership is highly goal focused and complete the objectives within specified deadlines. Task-oriented leaders define the roles of the whole team, supporting them. Task-oriented leaders provide specific work tools, resources, and other tools to get the job done. In this kind of leadership, everything is focused on achieving the task.

What are the Strengths and strategies of task-oriented leadership?

This directive kind of leadership strives to ensure the achievement of deadlines. This type of leadership is much different than relationship-oriented leadership, which focuses on developing strong bonds and being emotionally supportive for many reasons:

In specific circumstances and situations, employees require and thirst for direction.

Being direct provides step by step solutions to problems and tasks that need to complete on specific deadlines.

These types of leaders actively understand the employee requirements for completing the assignments and getting the job done. Leaders who are competent style are especially beneficial for industries that need to fulfill strict targets.

Task-oriented leaders know how to divide the work according to the team’s strengths, competencies, and roles within the time limit required. They understand their resource limitations and make defined plans to assign the work to highly effective and efficient employees to meet the closing date. In this way, the leader can achieve results more successfully than any other kind of leadership.

“In startups there can at times be a lot of shifting priorities, changing dynamics in the market and what can at times only be called chaos. In this case the CEO has to be what’s called a “wartime CEO.” She has to convey calm confidence and give clear direction. That is not consensus – “tell me what you think we should do.” That is not empathetic – “tell me how you feel.” It is directive – “let me tell you what I need you to do . ” This is essential during these kinds of times since things are moving so fast the CEO has to offer up a clear beacon for people to follow.”

Alisa Cohn – #1 Startup Coach in the World – Thinkers50 Marshall Goldsmith Leading Coaches Awards

Seven key strengths of task-oriented leadership are:

  1. Clarify objectives: Task-oriented leaders provide direct instruction. For example, if you are working with a team, you need to specify simple instructions, deadlines, and targets to employees to make it easy for them to achieve the potential you want.
  2. Framework tasks precisely. If you are working on a project, you need to outline the mission first. List the essential jobs and then accurately explain the processes. Design the methods and strategies with them to brainstorm the ideas in a well-mannered course of action.
  3. Issue exact deadlines. Setting deadlines is essential for the group to have a sense of achievement. Set reminders for your employees and ask them to work actively over the project, which has strict deadlines.
  4. Offer guidance. Provide clear advice and direction to avoid mistakes, roadblocks, and hassles. Give opportunities to ask questions. Provide information, resources, research, and other points of clarification. By offering guidance, you will address obstacles and move another step towards progress.
  5. Excellent representatives They know very well which team is suitable for which task; therefore, they are great at proper delegations. They drive productivity levels higher by identifying the strengths of their employees.
  6. Apply a reward system: After their teams have achieved key results and objectives, apply systems to continually reward and motivate. For example, set a reward, bonus, time off or other factors specific to individual’s diverse sets of motivation at the end of the month to increase productivity and make a disciplined work environment.
  7. Attain favorable outcomes: This leadership style achieves the best results by directing team strengths and setting strategies. They understand their responsibilities well and work effectively.

These skills and strategies which help you become more focused on results and outcomes. It will help if you are typically less concerned about catering constantly to emotional requirements rather than the tasks to be completed.

What are the weaknesses of task-oriented leadership?

The weakness of task-oriented leadership is that it ignores the welfare and happiness of the staff. Being focused on the task can result in the leader ignoring some critical issues that may come up within the team. Pushing the staff to complete the job without paying attention to their personal needs can result in a negative environment within the workplace, which can lead the workforce to be less productive.

Task-oriented leadership tends to stifle ground-breaking, creative, or spontaneous work. Instead, employees typically follow orders, have fixed deadlines for the projects, and have less or no flexibility in completing the tasks. The team that works under this kind of leadership can often lack interest, inspiration, and enthusiasm to go beyond the limits.

With few chances to explore new ideas, the staff gets limited in their ability to develop into more complex job roles. Development and training are formal in this environment, which limits staff development opportunities.

Famous examples of task-oriented leaders:

An excellent example of task-oriented leaders is the project managers who are in charge of big projects. Project managers are typically concerned with completing the project within the specified time limit and attaining the project goals.

Good examples of business leaders in this category are the low-level managers in the association who are accountable for the day-to-day operations of the enterprise. They are excellent at arranging processes and tasks necessary to implement projects dictated by middle-level managers.

This leadership type includes various small tasks and will deploy work appropriately to guarantee that everything completes in a productive and promising way. Process-oriented leadership will be appropriate in areas where management of processes is essential to meet the stated expectations. Process-oriented leaders understand that productivity is one of the paramount factors in meeting goals. Command and control of operations in small groups are essential and yield much success in the attainment of goals.

Tim Cook:

He is the CEO of one of the largest tech companies in the world, but also the eighth largest company in the world on Forbes’ Global 2000 list, Apple. Cook has helped navigate Apple through the evolution after Jobs’ death and opening Apple retail stores in China. About leadership, his views are:

“It’s about finding your values and committing to them. It’s about finding your North Star. It’s about making choices. Some are easy. Some are hard. And some will make you question everything.”

Sheryl Sandberg:

She has been the CEO of Facebook and has been an advocate for women in business. She is a great task-oriented leader and says:

Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.

Jack Ma:

Jack Ma was the first businessperson from mainland China to give an impression on the cover of Forbes magazine. He founded Alibaba Group, a group of internet companies. He is the richest man in China. Look what he says about the leadership:

Leadership is your instinct, and then it’s your training. Leaders are always positive; they never complain.

Bill Gates:

Who doesn’t know about Bill Gates? As the founder of Microsoft, he is listed as the second richest person in the world, with a current net worth of $108.8 billion, according to Forbes. Although this might change by the time you are reading this article, Jeff Bezos might be ranked #1. 

He says:

If you give people tools, [and they use] their natural ability and their curiosity, they will develop things in ways that will surprise you very much beyond what you might have expected.

Please also read Amazon Leadership Principles.

What are other forms of leadership that are not task-oriented?

There is much research on task-oriented leadership and other styles of leadership. Therefore it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of any of them. Each of them has its pros and cons. Have a look at other forms of leadership.

Public oriented leadership:

People-oriented leadership is just the opposite of task-oriented leadership. In this type of leadership, the leader is more concerned about the well being of people and public perception. The leader is more concerned with the effect of his decisions over his people or employees. It requires the high involvement of the leader in any task. Democratic leadership is said to be the public-oriented leadership. It can take a longer time to make effective decisions. Thus it also requires the opinions of the team members.

Relationship oriented leadership:

Relationship-oriented leaders are concerned with motivating people through positive communication, moral support, and active listening. The relationship-oriented leader focuses on satisfaction and motivation.

Final words:

All organizations need task-oriented leadership – if it didn’t exist, very few tasks would ever get completed. You need to meet deadlines, explain the procedures to clients, and then enjoy the best outcomes.

Management is most associated with task-oriented leadership. It is essential to balance this type of leadership with relationship-oriented leadership to avoid dysfunctional working relationships.

Leaders should consider well being, stress management, and work-life balance so that the workforce will become more productive and highly engaged.

Instead of Looking Back, Let’s Look Forward (6 Tips to Give Feed-Forward)

Instead of Looking Back, Let’s Look Forward (6 Tips to Give Feed-Forward)

Feedback is a part of every workplace and a common tool for individual improvement, however the concept of feed-forward brings a much more forward thinking approach. Applying constructive methods to improve existing and develop new skills is crucial to any performing culture, or individual, seeking advantages. Yet through this tried, long standing interaction, we overlook how to enhance the ways we give feedback. We must get better. The constant change among workplaces demands new, emerging, interpersonal strategies that challenge the status quo of feedback and how to develop the individual. That tool and daily practice is feed-forward.

Feed-forward is a constructive communication style that delivers individual growth by focusing on what’s ahead and collaboratively preparing the individual for future success.

Feedback, which many falls back on, is rooted in the negative by looking back on mistakes and attempting to develop from there. If mishandled, this can lead to lower individual motivation to change and, in group settings like meetings, innovation and dialogue can be suppressed. Feed-forward changes the conversation by looking ahead. It positively influences the dialogue and encourages individuals to grow. Here are 5 actionable ways you can begin applying it:

1. Start with the Question
Arguably any leader’s greatest strength is in the questions they ask. Powerful inquiry opens the doorway for reflection, conversation and development to begin. As a leader, applying the feed-forward approach, each question must be constructed with a focus on the future, and it should include ideas related to what the individual can do and how they can develop. What can I do better next time? What is the best way to achieve this in the future?

2. Forward Influenced Conversation
As leaders, if we engage with others to think about the future and what can be done to prepare for it, then our conversation must also reflect this philosophy as well. Put simply, the dialogue between leaders and others should consistently integrate future thinking. Rather than stating “Here’s what you did…”, the message can be phrased as “Next time, you can…” A simple tweak in how the message is communicated can make all difference between dwelling in the past or looking towards the future.

3. Dialogue and Co-Create Rather than Sell and Tell
There’s a fundamental difference in dictating and dialoguing in an interaction, and the difference is easy to recognize. Feeling patronized is experienced when we are being talked at; the conversation is a one-way trip with little room for questions. Dialoguing differs by framing the conversation as a two-way conversation; the other side can participate, ask questions and speak. By creating equality in the conversation with equal airtime, feed-forward further encourages the spark for the individual to change. Using this approach may phrase questions as “Help me understand…” Or “Would you mind…”

4. Active Listening
How we organize our messages and communicate them is just as powerful as how we listen. At the core, feed-forward is about weaving the developing individual’s mind, thoughts, and focus on what they can do. As dialogue is formed, active listening is critical here (pun intended). It presents an opportunity for the individual coaching to confirm that they are engaged with the other side. If needed, it also works as a method to clarify and adjust the conversation; ensuring all parties are on the same page. Where hearing occurs when one regurgitates verbatim what was said, active listening plays back what was said through the individual’s authentic style. Phrases that support these situations can be “What I’m hearing you say is…”, “Thank you sharing that, my understanding is that…” or “Would you clarify…”

5. Use “And” Rather Than “But”
And… after actively listening and mirroring back your understanding be sure to use the words “and” rather than “but.” Saying the word, “but” negates your last statement. Imagine you were just told you are a great physician, BUT you need to think about the bigger picture. Change that to “You are a really great physician AND I invite you to think about the future of your work.” Sounds different, right? Now you can be both a great physician AND consider other ways of thinking.

6. Reflect on your Feed-Forward Skills
Providing actionable, productive feed-forward communication is a skill and just like throwing a baseball or playing an instrument, it needs practice to become natural. The same goes here for applying feed-forward into your life and daily interactions. After a session or session has concluded, take a few minutes to debrief and think over how well it worked. Perhaps it’s better to write your thoughts in a journal, record a video or connect with another coach.

Feed-forward asks us to breakaway from what we know and what we’ve experienced through feedback. Feedback can crush motivation and sour relationships by focusing on what people did wrong. By integrating these steps and frequently applying them, the channels of positivity and motivation to change openly. The goal of any coach should be to add value in every conversation and the feed-forward approach weaves this idea together.

State, local, federal and company leaders: Promote dialogue to create a new vision for humanity and consider these leadership practices.

State, local, federal and company leaders: Promote dialogue to create a new vision for humanity and consider these leadership practices.

What we need now is not more division. What we need now is not more bloodshed, violence and coercion. What we need now is more emotional connection with those in pain. We must have the courage to step in with love, rather than hatred for those in pain. History has shown us since the Civil Rights Movement, murder of JFK, murder of MLK, and the murder of RFK and the thousands of other brutal deaths in the name of civil rights, that we must lead with an understanding of the unique psychology of groups, and individuals.

Group and Social Change happens in a clear process: 1. form, 2. storm, 3. norm and 4. perform. Some storming processes are more brutal than others and some can be done with humor and even grace. The best change happens with a process of empathy, emotional regulation, alignment of common human beliefs, an offer to help and walk beside those in fear and anger, and an invitation to facilitate dialogue.

There are two methods of storming that have two very distinct outcomes. Riots cause death and destruction of property. Dialogue creates a newfound vision for a better future for all of humanity.

1. Crowd/Group Riots: Some of the worst riots in history including the George Floyd riots have led to the death of 100s of individuals, police officers, resignations, job loss, deaths and unconscionable emotional upset. Such examples include the 1992 Rodney King Race Riot, 1967 nationwide riots in most major US cities that led to over 100 deaths, and the 1968 riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr which were as widespread and deadly.

What can we learn from rioting behavior? Are there leaders who have taught us in history how to turn violence into opportunity? The second form of storming can happen when we introduce a different way of interacting without violence.

2. Dialogue. On April 4, 1968, on the eve of Martin Luther King assassination, despite concerns for his safety, Robert F. Kennedy gave an impassioned speech to call for dialogue instead of violence to a rally at 17th and Broadway in the heart of Indianapolis, IN. RFK invited compassion instead of violence, eloquently communicating the pain he felt when his brother, too, was killed by a white man.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization — black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King, Jr. did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.

And, Senator George Mitchell spent several days in Ireland during the Peace Accords, working through the grueling emotional pain of those from North and South Ireland. I spoke with Senator Mitchell back in 1998, and he told me that being with the people, and truly empathizing with their pain and working through the details of the pain is what brought the Ireland Peace Accords to consensus.

There are common denominators to requests for help, be it sexual orientation, race, color, or gender. The common denominator is emotional pain. It is beyond the threshold of pain to be singled out due to our genetics, to be hurt, to be talked down to, to be discarded, to be disrespected.

This kind of behavior dates back in our memories to the schoolyard bully and back in history to the stone aged man dragging “his woman” by the hair. It is not to be tolerated, however, it must not be fought with any other weapon but dialogue, consensus building, empathy, caring, and moving toward a better and more understanding human right. The human right to be seen equal in the eyes of all.

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