This article forms part of the Leadership Styles Blog Series and focuses on the topic of Task-Oriented Leadership. We have previously looked at autocratic and democratic leadership styles and I will be presenting task-oriented leadership in a similar format here.
As the name implies, task-oriented leaders are primarily focused on getting tasks completed. They are highly goal-focused and work effectively towards predetermined objectives. This style of leadership is less concerned with the individuals and teams performing the work just as long as the work is done on time and to the required standard. Task-oriented leaders will define the roles within a team, divide the work up amongst the team, establish processes and procedures and monitor progress. Everything is focused towards achieving the task.
The most obvious strength for this style of leadership is that it ensures deadlines are met and tasks are completed. It can be highly effective for industries which need to meet strict deadlines while simultaneously maintaining a high standard of quality. Media publications and newspapers may be a good example of this along with multiple assembly-line manufacturing. Work has to be completed by a specific time, at a specific standard and there is often little room for error or delay. A task-oriented leader will be well suited to this particular type of job role.
Another key strength of task-oriented leadership is that these leaders are excellent delegators and know exactly how to divide up work and prioritise to get things done. Often they will have a sound understanding of the resources required to complete a task and can be highly efficient in their planning and delivery. This can result in improved productivity as well as efficiency savings within the organisation.
A major criticism of task-oriented leadership is that it runs the risk of overlooking the welfare and happiness of the staff. Being totally focused on the task can result in the leader ignoring key issues which may arise within the team. Pushing the staff to complete the task without paying attention to their personal needs can result in a team which feels undervalued and unappreciated.
Task-oriented leadership does not allow staff to be innovative, creative or spontaneous in their work. Instead they typically follow orders, have their own mini-tasks to complete and there is little scope for flexibility. Staff working under this style of leadership can often lack enthusiasm, inspiration and willingness to go above and beyond.
With few opportunities to explore new ideas staff will often find themselves limited in their ability to develop into more complex job roles. Progression and training is more formal in this environment which limits staff development opportunities.
Within all industries there is a need for task-oriented leadership – if it didn’t exist, very few tasks would every get completed. However, if all you do as a leader is push the team to complete tasks, neglecting the needs of the individuals and teams completing the work, you run the risk of staff welfare issues developing as your workforce becomes ever more demotivated and uninspired.
We all need to meet deadlines and for those of us who lead others we also have to make sure our staff meet their deadlines too. We will often find that we are subconsciously leading this way because of pressures from management, but it is important to balance this style of leadership with one which also focuses on the personal needs of the staff. This final thought brings us nicely onto the next post in the Leadership Styles Blog Series: tomorrow I will be discussing Relationship-Oriented Leadership and I hope you decide to join me again.