Task-Oriented Leadership: Definition and Examples

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As you advance in your career, you may consider pursuing more leadership responsibilities. Choosing a leadership style that suits your qualities can help you excel in any role. Task-oriented leadership could be a style you choose to incorporate into your management methods. In this article, we will define task-oriented leadership and give examples of its characteristics.


What is task-oriented leadership?

Task-oriented leadership focuses on achieving goals. Task-oriented leaders delegate assignments, set clear processes and issue deadlines to ensure all team members remain focused and deliver their part of the project within the designated time. Managers who use this style develop a structured workplace with clearly defined priorities and schedules. Consider using task-oriented leadership if you often need to complete a high number of objectives on a deadline.

Related: Management Skills: Definition and Examples


Strategies of task-oriented leaders

Here are some task-oriented strategies you can use to guide your team toward accomplishing its goals:

  • Communicate clear objectives. You need to explain tasks to your team so everyone can understand and follow the steps toward the objective. This includes delegating responsibilities, providing simple instructions and outlining tasks. For example, a sales manager creates a goal for their sales agents to generate $25,000 of sales each in one month. They give each sales agent a separate territory and provide instructions about how to approach potential customers.
  • Set processes. Focus on creating simple processes that all team members can follow. Straightforward processes help team members maintain their focus and can increase productivity. For example, a marketing director describes how the development process should work for the team. They outline how much time to spend brainstorming and designing to reach their target concept goal.
  • Issue straightforward deadlines. To achieve results, every goal needs to have a distinct deadline. Make sure you define soft and hard deadlines if necessary. You can set reminders at certain intervals so everyone on your team remembers the timeline. For example, the sales manager gave their team a one-month deadline to reach $25,000 in sales revenue. They specify that they will accept pending sales that may not be finalized until the next month. They ask that their team report their sales activity at the end of each week to ensure they are engaged in their tasks.
  • Offer employees guidance. You should willingly help your team when they face challenges. To guide your team, answer questions and offer feedback, which can help them better understand their roles and tasks. For example, the staff manager at a restaurant holds a weekly meeting where the team can share progress and ask questions. The manager can answer individual questions and address common obstacles that the team experiences.
  • Implement a rewards system. For task-oriented leadership to be successful, you will need a rewards system to encourage all employees to stay on task. For example, the sales manager offers a bonus to any sales agent that exceeds the monthly sales goal. The bonus encourages sales agents to increase the company’s revenue and rewards them for their effort, which builds their loyalty to the business. 


Task-oriented leadership skills

There are certain skills you can practice and develop to become a successful task-oriented leader, such as:

  • Prioritization. The ability to sort tasks, decide their importance and create a plan to complete those tasks is essential. When you prioritize tasks, try sorting them by order of urgency, effort required and deadline. 
  • Time-management. Task-oriented leaders are adept at creating schedules and helping others to follow them. You could implement shared, interactive calendars and to-do lists and have employees submit regular progress updates. 
  • Strategy. Achieving goals on time requires thorough planning. You must be able to implement processes that your team can understand and follow. To guide your team, try setting incremental milestones that lead to accomplishing the overall objective. 
  • Delegation. A key part of task-oriented leadership is the ability to delegate tasks so each contributor is productive. Try to determine which assignments are best for team members by identifying their strengths and skills.
  • Communication. Task-oriented leaders rely on clear communication so that their teams understand their responsibilities. You will need to recognize how best to communicate your plans and goals to team members, whether through email, one-on-one conversations or group meetings.

Read more: 15 Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader


Task-oriented leadership vs. people-oriented leadership

People-oriented, or relationship-oriented leadership, is often contrasted with task-oriented leadership. People-oriented leaders believe that productivity is the result of team members’ happiness and encourages creativity and innovation. Task-oriented leadership instead focuses on completing a designated goal as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Many leaders use a combination of task- and relationship-oriented styles depending on their workplace and goals. To incorporate people-oriented leadership in your management style, consider these tips:

  • Focus on your team’s needs. Make sure your team feels comfortable with their assigned work. Provide training to members to help them learn the needed skills to be successful.
  • Improve morale and inspire loyalty. People-oriented leaders concentrate on their team’s needs, and they tend to have members that are invested in the long-term goals and vision of a company as a result. Recognize hard work and when members excel to increase their morale.
  • Allow team members to create. Let your team know that you support their decisions to help promote their creativity. Encouraging your team’s creativity could lead members to find new and more efficient methods to complete tasks.
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