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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.

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