Leadership Orientation: Task-Oriented & People-Oriented

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  • 0:05 Leadership Orientation
  • 1:57 Task-Oriented Leaders
  • 3:24 People-Oriented Leaders
  • 5:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sherri Hartzell

Sherri has taught college business and communication courses. She also holds three degrees including communications, business, educational leadership/technology.

As a leader, are you focused on getting the job done or on making people happy? This lesson will explain the difference between task-oriented leaders and people-oriented leaders to better help you decide.

Leadership Orientation

As part of a company-wide initiative at Don't Cha Be Talking Bout My Mama Inc., each manager has been asked to develop a team building activity aimed at increasing communication between departments. As a manager, do you start to break down the tasks that need to be done as part of the project and assign responsibilities to people based on who you think the right person for the job is? Or do you ask your employees what they would like to do as part of the project, checking if anyone has a talent or a preference that they want to explore? Are you someone who starts calling potential venues to see what dates are available and what each facility offers? Or do you begin by sending out a questionnaire to your employees to see what they would like to do for their team building activity? Do you set deadlines based on how long you think it should take? Or do you spend time talking to your employees and asking them personally how much time that they need? Do you review the budget and set aside funds for each area of the team builder how you see fit? Or do you ask staff how they prefer to spend their allotted money?

While there are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions, considering what you responses to them might be can tell you a great deal about your leadership orientation. Your leadership orientation specifies whether you are a task-oriented leader or a people-oriented leader. For those of you whose main focus in on simply getting the work done, you would be considered a task-oriented leader. For those of you who also concentrate on getting the work done but at the same time pleasing your employees, you are considered a people-oriented leader. Let's explore this idea of leadership orientation a bit more by looking at how two different managers tackle this task of developing a team builder.

Task-Oriented leaders

Task-oriented leaders are those leaders who are very much concerned with completing the task at hand. When given an assignment they immediately jump into it feet first and hit the ground running. Task-oriented leaders believe that if you want something done right, they need to do it themselves; they like being in control of the entire process. As such, task-oriented leaders will search out the best methods and resources to get the work done, make decisions relating to organizing and assigning work as an individual, and continuously monitor the performance of those with whom the manager assigns the work to.

For example, when Tom the task-oriented leader learns about the need to create a team building activity, he immediately starts to map out the project. He begins by listing out all of the responsibilities, determining deadlines, assigning work, and communicating these tasks to his employees. He lets each employee know what their respective role is, when it must be completed by, and at what point he will check in with the employee to see their progress. Tom's employees are not sure what role their co-workers have in the process, but that is not important to Tom; he just wants them to concentrate on their task and nothing else. Tom tells his staff that they are on a needs-to-know basis for information and ensures his employees that he has it all under control.

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