Article: Striking the right balance in leadership behaviour

Leadership Development

Striking the right balance in leadership behaviour

Leadership behaviours profoundly affect organizational growth. Tailored leadership programs are crucial for fostering team culture, ensuring sustained growth, and boosting employee satisfaction.
Striking the right balance in leadership behaviour

Leadership behaviours profoundly affect organizational growth. Tailored leadership programs are crucial for fostering team culture, ensuring sustained growth, and boosting employee satisfaction.

We encounter different leaders with unique working styles. Our perception of them is largely shaped by the behavioural cues they exhibit. Over time, researchers have categorised leaders into two main groups based on their behaviours in various situations. 

Most of the leaders demonstrate either task-driven behaviour or people- and relationship-driven behaviour. The leaders demonstrating task-driven behaviour are more focused on allocating tasks, organising the work,  providing the structure, setting the work context, defining roles and responsibilities, ensuring feedback mechanisms, and diligent processes for ensuring timely delivery of the task and outcomes. People-driven leaders prioritise relationships, build camaraderie, work in a more harmonious culture, and value respect, trust, and other humane aspects of teamwork. 

While these two behavioural approaches differ, they are inherently linked. However, an excessive emphasis on either end can undermine both the organization's progress and team cohesion. Striking a harmonious balance between these approaches is pivotal. It's not just about finding equilibrium; it's about seamlessly integrating these behavioural styles. This integration enhances productivity, fosters stronger team bonds, and fortifies the organization to tackle challenges for sustained growth.

Before leaders can achieve this equilibrium, understanding the spectrum of leadership behaviours is crucial. Leaders often exhibit the following behaviours leaning towards either tasks or relationships.

High emphasis on relationships, low priority on tasks: Leaders of this orientation prioritise relationships over tasks, focusing on team members' attitudes, motivations, and emotions to foster workplace harmony. They tend to be agreeable and accommodating, often avoiding asserting authority and overlooking task-related matters. However, this emphasis on social connections can hinder effective leadership, turning the workplace into a social hub and potentially diminishing overall results.

High emphasis on tasks and low priority to relationships: This leadership style sharply contrasts with the previous one. Here, leaders prioritise task completion above all else, acting as strict taskmasters focused on job requirements, deadlines, and outcomes. Their communication centres largely around tasks, showing little empathy or concern for team well-being. Their authoritative and controlling approach leads to high attrition and dissatisfaction, requiring frequent talent recruitment. These factors hinder desired results, constraining the organisation's full potential.

Low emphasis on tasks and low priority to relationships: The team members of a leader with low emphasis on tasks and low priority on relationships face the most challenging situation at work as they end up fending for themselves. Leaders with low emphasis on tasks and relationships largely remain indifferent to or demotivated by the culture, situation, or job scope, hence failing to achieve the desired results. However, many of them come from individual contributors’ backgrounds with strong functional capabilities. Turning them around by fostering a sense of belonging and team bonding can help them progress with the team. 

Medium emphasis on tasks and medium priority to relationships: These leaders aim to balance fostering relationships and achieving tasks. They compromise on some task-focused and relationship-oriented aspects, opting for a middle ground. They focus on tasks and the team members equally. Despite striving for team harmony, they settle for moderate outcomes and actively avoid conflicts, aiming for a peaceful environment. While content with moderate success, they often fall short of reaching an ideal scenario, facing occasional setbacks and moderate consequences.

High emphasis on tasks and high priority to relationships: These leaders place a high focus on both tasks and relationships. They epitomize the word team management. They can engage the team members, giving them clarity, encouraging them to focus on the goal, resolving their issues transparently and openly,  and creating a more amiable and aspirational work culture. They leverage relationships and social skills to understand their aspirations and turn their attitude towards task fulfilment. These leaders create a win-win situation for all stakeholders by effectively managing them. 

Even though a high emphasis on tasks and relationships seems ideal, it is also important to factor in external and internal aspects such as business target, context, team structure, the team’s capabilities, social skills, and personality traits for enhancing behavioural orientation and approach. There are several leadership development programs weaved around these five sets of behaviours, as understanding, and navigating the complexities of leadership behaviours towards people and tasks and ensuring the right modifications are crucial for fostering a strong team culture leading to successful and sustainable organisational growth and employee satisfaction.

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Topics: Leadership Development, Leadership, Leadership Solutions

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