Some of the leaders I coach are simply too task-focussed!
Well, being “too task-focused” is not exactly the real issue. It’s that these leaders are insufficiently “people-focused”. In their effort to get the job done they burn people up and consequently the job doesn’t get done!
One leader I met a couple of years ago had a horrible nickname—“The Fireball”. Yikes! That said something about the way he burned people up. As a consequence of his fiery behaviours, he was way “behind the eight ball” whenever he wanted to influence his team members or peers.
Highly task-focused leaders too frequently lose team members, and they find it enormously difficult to generate discretionary effort from their team members.
Both of these issues are huge costs to an organisation. For example, I spoke to a Human Resource Manager last week who was dealing with an industrial issue that had “suddenly” flared up. I bet that a leader who was too task-focussed was a part of that situation somewhere or other.
It’s Not an Either—or Situation
It really, really bothers me when I see behavioural models that put task and people focus on one continuum.
That doesn’t make sense from where I sit. People orientation and task orientation aren’t mutually exclusive opposites. You know people who have a good dose of both, don’t you?
In fact, if you’re an exemplary leader you’ll have a nice blend of task and people orientation. Rather than always opting for either a wired-in task or people preference, you behave in a contextually appropriate way of astutely attending to both matters.
How Do These “Balanced” Leaders Do It?
As I’ve inferred, some leaders are born with a natural inclination to attend equally to the person and the task—and most aren’t born that way.
If you’re highly task-focussed, rather than being naturally task/people balanced, I suspect you can do with some steps to support you in behaving as an exemplary leader behaves.
Let’s see how these two steps sit with you…
Step 1: Up your awareness.
Like most issues, being aware of what’s actually going on is half the battle won.
I know you know that your team members aren’t just robots without their own thoughts, feelings, desires, aspirations and goals. They are…people. People who are after engagement. People who don’t appreciate it when they’re brusquely given an order.
Just because you want something to be done pronto, doesn’t mean they’ll easily forgive your “command and control” manner.
Step 2: Hum a particular tune.
Remember that people’s buy-in is almost always required to complete the task.
So your second step is to sing to the tune of…
“Money makes the world go round”, “People get the task complete”.
(I suggest you don’t sing too loudly if there are people around.)
Keep on remembering that involving the other person, and building rapport, wins over “telling” any day.
The job’s much more likely to get done effectively, with your team members using discretionary effort, when you take care of the people part of the equation.
Your Leadership Call to Action
If, and only if, you notice that you have a bit of a tendency to be somewhat task-focussed, and if, and only if, you want to have…
- More impact and better results from your interactions with others
- More influence with your team members and peers
- More buy-in and discretionary effort from your team members…
…all in the interests of better productivity and enhanced business results, I recommend that you consciously apply the above steps consistently, every hour of every day, certainly every single time you embark on a new task.
Then once you’ve habituated the behaviour, you can relax and let your unconsciousness support you in taking this big step towards exemplary leadership .
It really can be as easy as it sounds… provided you’re highly, highly focussed.
If you’re determined to make the shift and want or need support, email me and we can arrange a time to speak.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.