What Is Task-Oriented Leadership? (With Benefits and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 18, 2022

Published October 18, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are various leadership styles you can apply to improve your effectiveness and attain company goals. One of the most popular approaches leaders choose is task-oriented management. Understanding the fundamentals of task-oriented leadership can help you become a more effective manager or supervisor. In this article, we discuss task-oriented management, identify strategies of task-oriented leaders, highlight important skills for them to have, outline the benefits of being task-oriented, and state potential problems task-oriented leaders can avoid.

What is task-oriented leadership?

Task-oriented leadership is a style of running an organization, unit, or team which focuses on tasks and the most effective way to complete them. This type of leadership is very keen on results and effectiveness. A notable feature of task-oriented leaders is that they encourage employees to complete more tasks within a particular period. They usually encourage a fast-paced environment where employees only rest when necessary. Task-oriented leaders also usually favour simple and efficient work processes. They are strict with deadlines and monitor the performance of employees very closely.

Strategies of task-oriented leaders

Here are some essential strategies task-oriented leaders adopt:

Set clear goals

Setting clear goals helps other employees or team members understand the purpose of their work. Knowing what the aim is can help employees become more motivated and understand the importance of their roles. For example, a marketing manager can specify that the goal of a project is to improve a client's sales by 80% within six months.

Related: Leadership Goals: (Definitions and Examples)

Set strategic deadlines

Setting specific and straightforward deadlines can motivate employees to work more effectively. A good approach is setting a main deadline for the task and having key performance indicators with timelines. For example, a construction manager can set a deadline of eight months to build a duplex. The construction manager can then include a one-month timeline for building the foundation and three months for completing the walls.

Implement an effective work process

The work process refers to how employees complete work. This includes how they share work, obtain resources, collaborate, and report to the relevant authorities. Allocating adequate time to develop an effective process can ease work for employees and help them complete tasks faster. A good work process is simple, flexible, and functional. For example, a law firm partner can develop a process to share research, brief drafting, and other duties among employees of all levels.

Related: What Is Result Orientation? Plus Other FAQs

Follow up consistently

Following up consistently helps keep employees motivated to complete tasks. Employees are more likely to remain focused when they know providing constant updates is mandatory. For this strategy to be effective, it's best you inform employees of when a follow-up is imminent to allow a sense of autonomy. A good approach is to pair the follow-ups with your project timelines. For example, a project manager can request periodic updates from all unit heads.

Delegate leadership if necessary

If you're responsible for leading a large unit or organization with many processes, delegation can make leadership more effective. Effective delegation allows you to monitor various parts of an organization more efficiently. When delegating, pick employees whose competence and skills you trust to head certain aspects of the organization. These employees can handle the specifics of administering those units and send you periodic reports. For example, a manager can employ a marketing head, a financial manager, and an operations manager to oversee those units.

Related: The 10 Leadership Roles of a Great Manager

Offer guidance

Effective task-oriented leaders are always available to help employees who are struggling with a task. This can include answering questions, brainstorming together on tough tasks, and providing feedback. Employees who receive guidance are more likely to perform tasks effectively. For example, a restaurant manager can show a server how to fold napkins or arrange cutlery.

Adopt a reward system

Reward systems help to motivate employees to be more effective. This is important for task-oriented leaders who want employees to focus on attaining their goals. There are various options you can explore to reward employees, such as promotions, bonuses, commissions, gifts, awards, and special recognition. For example, a supermarket manager can display the name and picture of the "Employee of the Month," or offer them a weekly bonus.

Related: What Are Reward Systems? (Including Benefits and Examples)

Show empathy

While encouraging employees to work better, it's essential for task-oriented leaders to show they care about them. This can help improve employee morale and loyalty. For example, you can build rapport by remembering your employees' birthdays, giving them professional development opportunities, and offering workplace benefits to make them comfortable. Leaders can be more considerate about deadlines, especially when employees experience difficulties.

Promote a healthy work culture

Promoting a healthy culture is important for achieving corporate goals. Employees can focus on their tasks and work more effectively when they feel safe in an environment. A healthy workplace means workers can express themselves freely without fear of abuse or discrimination. It also means they work in a comfortable and safe environment without health hazards. For example, a company manager can implement a new code of conduct prohibiting discrimination and other forms of abuse.

Related: What Is Work Culture? Definition, Elements, and Examples

Important skills for task-oriented leaders

Here are some important skills that task-oriented leaders typically require for effectiveness:

Communication skills

This refers to the ability to exchange information, so parties understand each other properly. Task-oriented leaders require this skill to deliver clear instructions and timelines. They also rely on active listening, which is an aspect of effective communication that involves understanding employee feedback and making informed decisions.

Leadership skills

These are skills you can use to influence people to take certain actions. Naturally, being able to influence employees to remain dedicated to their tasks is essential for task-oriented leaders. They also require the ability to manage the strengths and weaknesses of their teams and direct their affairs properly.

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are abilities that help you build long-term, meaningful, and beneficial relationships with other people. For example, task-oriented leaders require interpersonal skills to build positive relationships with their employees. This is essential for having a positive work relationship and understanding their strengths and weaknesses.

Strategic thinking

Strategic thinking is the ability to make effective plans to achieve a long-term goal while considering all relevant factors. It also involves the ability to adapt this plan to changing variables to attain your goals. Strategic thinking is essential for task-oriented leaders responsible for devising the most effective way to achieve a goal.

Related: What is Strategic Management and Why is it Important?

Time management

Time management is the ability to manage your time effectively when completing tasks. The duties of a leader include monitoring employees to ensure they meet their deadlines. In addition, leaders also have personal tasks with deadlines for completion. Handling these responsibilities requires excellent time management skills.

Related: Why Is Time Management Important? And How to Manage Your Time

Benefits of task-oriented leadership

Here are some benefits of leadership being task-oriented:

Achieve more goals

As task-oriented leaders focus on developing the most effective method for completing tasks, they're likely to achieve more in less time. This allows them to take on more tasks and achieve more goals. Achieving more goals can give an organization an edge over its competitors and ultimately improve its profitability.

Meet deadlines

Task-oriented leaders supervise their employees constantly and maintain strict deadlines. This encourages employees to be more effective and productive. Task-oriented leaders develop simple and efficient processes which make task completion easier and faster. The result is that employees can meet their deadlines at all times.

Develop effective systems

As task-oriented leaders always search for the most effective way to complete tasks, they're likely to develop effective systems. This can include effective shortcuts, automation, or straightforward processes that get the work done. These effective systems can become a core part of an organization, even long after the leader leaves.

Help employees develop

As task-oriented leaders urge their employees to complete more jobs, they encourage them to develop their skills by practising. Task-oriented leaders are also likely to invest in training to make their employees more effective. This can help employees grow into more competent professionals.

Improve client relationships

Task-oriented leaders prioritize delivering quality work within the shortest possible time. This can leave a positive impression on clients, who are then like to view the organization as reliable. As a result, clients can become more eager to do business with that organization, as they can expect quality work.

Related: How to Build Client Relationships (Why They're Important)

Potential problems task-oriented leaders can avoid

Here are some potential problems task-oriented leaders can work on avoiding:

  • Employee burnout: This refers to fatigue due to excessive work. You can solve this by allowing sufficient breaks and incorporating automation into their processes.

  • Low employee morale: This refers to low motivation and can be due to an unhealthy work environment. Leaders can handle this by incentivizing work and showing care for employees.

  • Unhealthy competition: Task-oriented leaders are likely to reward employees solely based on performance, leading to unhealthy rivalry. A good solution is rewarding ethical conduct and teamwork.

  • Poor work-life balance: Employees who work for a leader dedicated to completing tasks may have limited time for their private life. You can solve this by implementing considerate work schedules and allowing time off to promote work-life balance.

  • Unhealthy work environment: Excessively focusing on tasks can cause overburdened workers who develop bad attitudes. To avoid this, you can encourage a healthy work approach that emphasizes the welfare of your employees.

Related: Work-Life Integration: Definition and Steps to Manage It


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