While strategic and relational leadership have a vital place within any organization, if your company hasn’t been performing at the level you have targeted, the culprit may be insufficient task oriented leadership.
Visionary leadership is the fun stuff. It’s the strategy, the human relationships, the inspiration, the creative self-expression, the adventure of business. It is a critical foundation for any business. In contrast, task oriented leadership is the day-to-day, nuts and bolts of how you build success upon that foundation. Without either, you will have lots of activity with haphazard results.
What is Task Oriented Leadership?
Task oriented leadership focuses on managing processes to make sure that the work being done:
- Contributes to the company’s strategic objectives
- Achieves the company’s performance objectives
- Is consistently done up to standard
- Is dependably repeatable, even if staff changes
- Clear, objective measures of whether results are meeting or falling short of requirements
Even if you have only a single support person, such as a virtual assistant (VA), you still need to create the operational systems for your business that will make achieving these 5 objectives possible.
Using Task Oriented Leadership in Hiring and Managing
Transformational leadership theory focuses on developing the employee along with the organization. A chief component of this leadership approach is hiring more for employee “fit,” attitude, and raw ability, than for specific work skills and job specific experience. That’s a great approach, and need not be sacrificed when task oriented leadership is use on the front lines, where the day to day work is being managed.
You can still hire for the likelihood the person can easily be trained to do the job the way it is done in this particular company, and in fact you should. But it requires that there be a well developed system for training new hires so that they can do so.
Gone is the idea of hiring someone who “knows the job” and just expecting them to apply their previous training in the new environment, after a week of reading the employee manual and signing HR forms. If you are going to have a unique value proposition in your company, which you must if you are to truly see the profit levels and stability you want in your business, then there must be a standardized way of doing each task.
The most effective training combination I have found in practice consists of:
- Document your processes as you do them
- Create step-by-step videos of key tasks being completed
- Include step-by-step written instructions with the videos
- Schedule a set of training sessions in which the new hire teaches the process back to the trainer (this reveals where they think they know, but really are seeing it differently than intended… or where you think you were clear, but were not considering how else you might be interpreted.)
- Having weekly progress meetings with each staff person, at which together you complete a progress report for the previous week. (If this is a considerable time challenge, this could be reduced to monthly.)
If you follow these steps in your hiring, training, and then managing of new staff, you will be able to use task oriented leadership to build a company that provides sustainable revenue growth in the years to come.
You will also build a business that has sufficiently developed systems and processes that it would be attractive to a potential buyer, who would know they could continue running the business with at least the same rate of return they see in your books and reliably recoup their investment. You may never choose to sell, but a business you could sell, is also a business at which you can actually take a vacation without working the entire time!
And long before that, you’ll simply have a business that is easier to run, a more pleasant workplace. (Incredibly, adults actually like being able to self-manage — and effective training, clear requirements, and objective measurements for good performance are all necessary for them to be able to so.) And you will see yourself hitting KPI targets consistently, growing revenue, and minimizing costs. That’s the beauty of a system that is consistent enough that you can actually optimize it over time, and that optimization makes success as inevitable as anything planned by man can ever be.
No matter what your future plans for your business may be, implementing task oriented leadership practices in concert with more strategic and relational leadership styles will deliver the best combination of results.