The Strengths & Weaknesses of a Task-Oriented Leadership Style
Task-oriented leadership is one of several predominant styles used by managers in a business setting. Closely related to the autocratic style, task-oriented leadership is based on a strong emphasis on task completion and deadlines. Managers that use this style tend to develop a structured workplace with clearly defined schedules, task assignments and deadlines.
Task-oriented leaders have a strong orientation for getting the job done on time. When leading employees, task-oriented leaders typically set out easy-to-follow work schedules that include requirements and deadlines. Because of their task-orientation, they are also typically good at following up on tasks to measure the progress.
Task-oriented leadership works especially well in environments where job responsibilities are easily defined and predictable.
Task-oriented leaders maintain a high standard for performance. They expect employees to deliver the desired results in the allotted time. By driving a high task emphasis, they leave employees little room for idle chat or goofing around. In certain environments and work tasks, this can improve efficiency in production.
Employees that need structure and struggle with time management tend to function better with guidelines laid out for them ahead of time.
In a task-oriented work environment, results are easier and quicker to achieve thanks to the organization of giving specific instructions for tasks. When daily assignments are assigned to employees in the way of to-do lists or a ticketing system, management can more easily keep track of employee activity and review their work when necessary.
This is important in small or start-up companies where roles are less specialized and every employee wears many hats.
A major drawback of excessive task orientation is the creation of a culture with low morale. Employees that are self-motivated usually find highly task-oriented leaders to be condescending and non-trusting. Goal-oriented employees often feel micromanaged or oppressed in a task-oriented environment. Collectively, employees may begin to share their negative feelings about a manager they believe doesn't care for them as people. Demonstrating genuine concern for his employees is the greatest challenge for a task-oriented leader.
Low morale contributes to high employee turnover.
Task orientation also stifles employee creativity. Employees that get used to having tasks and responsibilities clearly defined for them may give up on creative thinking and flexibility. This can restrict them from showing personality and customized care in customer-oriented roles.
This style doesn’t mesh as well with self-driven workers who prefer independence and creativity in their roles.
Studies consistently show that poor management can lead to higher turnover rates. Since task-oriented leadership leaves little room for creativity and self-started projects, it can be argued that it is a management practice that is poor in nature, in turn causing high turnover rates.
While task-oriented leadership may not be in and of itself a bad practice, it can lead to bosses doling out less credit for the work of employees.
Often, a significant reason that employees consider quitting positions is due to lack of adequate credit and reward for their hard work. This lack of credit is cited as a more pressing concern for employees than even pay dissatisfaction.
When a leader puts increased pressure on employees to churn out task after task with little gratitude, employees can become stressed and even burnt out with very little reward beyond a steady paycheck to keep them moving forward.