Task Management versus People Management

What exactly defines task management or people management? Many people wouldn't even acknowledge the tension between the two but we believe you need to explore this dichotomy and find a position. When you know what you believe you can use it as a guide on how to respond to situations and have a good bit of theory behind your actions.

How important is this? Very Important!
Why is it important? It defines an aspect of how you lead

The Main Contentions - Task Management versus People Management

If you're focused on fulfilling the task of your team then you'll put the success of the task over the people on your team. Basically your value is placed on the task rather than people.

Ultimately your team is assembled to be given a task to accomplish and most would say that the accomplishment of that task is more important than any particular person on the team. However, the contrary position states that the people on the team should be valued more than accomplishing the task and its ok to fail in succeeding in the task occasionally for this to happen.

What do you believe? John Kenneth Gallbraith said;

"All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership."

Do you think that is the essence of leadership? How would your organisation or team cope if some tasks weren't fulfilled? How would you feel?

At this point you may want to check out our define leadership section for some more perspective on what leadership is. This may challenge you further to know what defines a leader.

Great questions to ask yourself but on the other side of things how do you think the people team would cope if you walked all over them to accomplish a task? Would they stay on your team or in future would they give their best?

5 Steps to finding a position on Task Management versus People Management

1. From your gut-instinct what is more important to you You may find that you've already found a position or atleast provisionally you have a mindset that decides this question. You will most likely already be set here in your personality for the rest of your life. And thats ok!
2. What are the consequences of your current position? If you're people driven, how many tasks do you drop the ball and what does this mean to your team? If you're task driven, do you see the people on your team growing and developing or do you loose people and find yourself leading a difficult team?
3. Are these consequences acceptable? Do you occasionally miss the target on a task or do you have a reputation of someone who fails? Do you occasionally make someone feel a little bad to accomplish a task or has everyone slowly left your team and you can't find anything wanting to join?
4. Do you think changing to the 'dark side' is better for you? Every leader should consider other options for the way they lead, usually instinctively you will know whether your current task management characteristics are healthy or destructive.
5. Is there a compromise? You might find that one of these positions is necessary but could a compromise between the two be met? That's up to you.

If you have any particular questions on Task Management versus People Management then put a question in our Leadership FAQ.

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