OPD Articles / Leadership and people versus task


Leadership and people versus task

by Dr Graham Little PhD AFNZIM MInstD MNZIC

Over the years there has been discussion on the leadership issue of people versus task. What exactly was the balance, when should the leader be concerned about people and when about task, and what is the difference between these two sorts of activity.

The OPD model does not eliminate this distinction between people versus task, but it does give it clear and definite focus. Consider the summary from the earlier article.

The leadership process: the only way it can be done

1. The thinking task of management: Build a clear and definite model of excellence right through the organization.
a.Ensure clear goals derived from the agreed strategy and aligned carefully right through the organization.
b.Ensure clear ideal actions relative to each goal that offers the greatest chance of the greatest success.

2. The interpersonal task of management: Gain maximum support from all staff to deliver the model/ideals to standard required and maintain that standard.
a.Establish clarity in mind of each person of 1a and 1b above.
b.Build base cultural platform of professionalism, namely willingness to do what is needed when needed.
c.Have all team leaders assume responsibility for goals and KPIs in each position in each team.
d.Have each team leader deal with each team member on following basis:
 i.These are stretch goals I have set.
 ii.We have together identified these ideals as offering the greatest chance of the greatest success if these ideals acted out. Do you agree? (Rework until it is agreed.)
 iii.Then what I expect from you is to act out these ideals to the fullest professional endeavours you can muster. If you deliver the ideals to the professional standard agreed and we get the results we both win. If you deliver the ideals to the standard agreed and we do not get the results then you did your part and I carry the can.
e.Do regular cultural audits that assess if the clarity and commitment is instilled in every team. Guide team leaders to take action to improve upon audit results as needed.
f.Do regular performance reviews where team members are reviewed against their delivery of the ideals, not against the results achieved.
g.Do regular review of the market, or systems, or processes leading to every team examining its ideals and revising them on the basis of latest insights and learning.

Steps 1a and 1b, the thinking task of management, are clear and very objective. The clear tasks in 1 are setting up the interactive tasks in 2 which are themselves clear and definite tasks.

So, what have we achieved? Leadership is another 'task' consisting of two definite tactical tasks.

Leadership as two tactical tasks:
1.Identify ideal actions relative to KPIs that represent offer greatest chance of greatest success in role. This is the model of excellence in every role throughout the organization.
2.Gain support of people act out ideals as needed when needed.

It is important to understand that this view of leadership also has definite psychological targets, for example, in the first steps, 1a and 1b above, the target is to achieve a definite 'transparency' in mind of staff member of what is expected, the KPIs and outputs, and another in relation to the ideals needed that offer the best chance of the best success. There are yet other definite targets such as the process of agreeing goals/KPIs and ideals, the agreement to be professional on the job, and the agreement for follow and review of the extent the person is performing the ideals.

The task and processes of leadership are very, very clear, and are no different from other tasks such as completing the management report, or dealing with the complaint, or ordering more stock. So while it is useful to identify task and people, really there is just tasks, some deal with things some deal with people.

It is not a matter of 'buy-in' there really is no other way offering scientifically sound models that will last the test of time, clear guidelines, and definite structure and offering the greatest chance of greatest success. Team leaders not willing to conduct themselves this way are simply planning to achieve mediocre results.

There remains the issue of what if people do not do the ideals, but that will need to wait another article.