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Executive Leadership Podcast #188: Task vs. People – How to Achieve Results

May 19, 2022
Executive Leadership Podcast #188: Task vs. People – How to Achieve Results

Are you winning and achieving the results you need to achieve? Today Perry and Chris talk about what task-based and relationship-based leaders need to know to achieve results.

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Perry Holley:    Welcome to the Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a Maxwell Leadership facilitator and coach.

Chris Goede:     And I’m Chris Goede, executive vice president with Maxwell Leadership. Welcome, and thank you for joining. If you’d like to download the learner guide for today’s session, leave a question or a comment that you’d like to see Perry and I talk about, maybe even just access to the blog that we have. We want to encourage you to visit, and you can fill out a form, leave us a note, or find that information there. Well today’s topic is titled Task Versus People How to Achieve Results.

Perry Holley:    Yes.

Chris Goede:     I love this one. In the five levels leadership, we talk about leaders, by the way, everyone’s a leader. We believe influence is leadership. You have influence, you are a leader that we either are naturally wired towards the relationship side of the people side or the task side. And that’s kind of how we’re driven. That’s our temperament.

And that’s kind of where we naturally kind of navigate towards how we lead and connect with people. So given a choice, you would choose people in relationships or production and task. That’s the question, which one would you choose? That kind of lets you know whether you’re level two naturally wired, kind of lean towards the permission side or level three influence, which is the task side, but this can also cause a problem. And this is what we’re going to talk a little bit about today because if you’re not intentional about engaging all of the levels of influence, you’re not going to be able to grow your level of influence overall as a leader.

Perry Holley:    So we did a podcast back aways. I’m almost embarrassed. I don’t want to send them back that far. It’s like episode number seven.

Chris Goede:     Wow.

Perry Holley:    But you know, you should go back and listen to episode-

Chris Goede:     I don’t want to do that. I’m not listening to that one at all.

Perry Holley:    Yeah, don’t go listen to episode seven. Let me put this way. We’ve grown.

Chris Goede:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    We’ve grown.

Chris Goede:     We’re learning.

Perry Holley:    We hadn’t really figured out that podcast thing yet. And Jake hadn’t really been holding us that accountable back then. He was hoping we wouldn’t leave, but we stayed and we’re getting better. But the whole idea about task versus relationship, you have a tendency, a leaning, as you said, and we did it. That podcast was basically about communication and how you treat people and that sort of thing. Where I wanted to go today was about if your goal as a leader is to generate results to get people moving together toward an outcome that you’re trying to achieve.

How can this task orientation or this relationship orientation affect you? Now on that, let’s get a little test here, see how you’re doing, was on that previous podcast, I had written that there was, I called it the Five Levels Danger Zone. And hopefully you remember these danger zones, but if you were a task oriented leaning person, now I should make this clear. You have to be both.

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Chris Goede:     You do have to.

Perry Holley:    You’ve got to build relationship, you’ve got to do task, but you have a bent, a leaning that if you could just do one, not the other, you would lean toward task. What would be the danger zone of being a task leaning person?

Chris Goede:     Well, you’re so focused at the level three level of the KPIs, the results of the production. I like to say you leave bodies in the wake behind you, right? You’re running over your people, but now listen, we say this again. There’s positive negatives both sides of the danger zone is this is where right here, this is where retention is a problem inside organizations, because you’re not aware of it. And you’re running over people [inaudible 00:03:56].

Perry Holley:    Very good. Very good. All right. Let me flip the switch because you and I, as we’ve probably confessed many times on this podcast, we are on the relationship side, unashamedly so. Are there any danger zones for people like us?

Chris Goede:     Yeah. We may not have a job. Right? We talk a lot about the fact that because we do have this relationship bent that sometimes the priority is not the KPIs and not the metrics, but that’s so important in order for an organization to run very effectively.

Perry Holley:    That’s good. And so today I really want to talk about based on where you are, task or relationship, what are the things you need to focus on to deliver results and no matter what your tendency may be to do that.

Chris Goede:     So before we get started, remember you got to pick a camp, one way or another. You feel like you have a natural bent and wiring to tasks where you prefer to be in the office and you’re working the plane. You’re making the calls, you’re setting the expectations. You don’t want people interrupting you. A lot of times, we say that these people show up early so they can get in their office before anybody else around the office gets there. Or are you in the relationship camp where over here, it’s about connecting with people. You prefer to be with your team. You’re checking in on them. Even if you both left the office late last night, and you’re there early, you want to know what happened last night, and you’re just touching base with them. So remember as we go through this, you got to pick one or the other camp as we lean into this kind of thing.

Perry Holley:    And just to make this fun, why don’t you and I take a camp so we can walk through this kind of the pros and cons of this for results. I’ll go ahead and take tasks because I know-

Chris Goede:     Thank you.

Perry Holley:    … there’s no way thank you could possibly pull off the task camp.

Chris Goede:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    You’ll have the relationship because when I look up the dictionary, I saw your picture next to that. All right.

Chris Goede:     I love it. All right, so let’s do this. So number one, from a relationship side, if your preference is people and relationships, you really need to hold yourself to a higher standard of productivity. Like you set the bar extremely high. You need to own the fact that you do prefer mixing it up with people and you got to be intentional about being productive. Listen, this is something where Chris Fuller, another one of our executive facilitators and coaches has this phrase where he says lead where you’re strong, team or set up a system or a process where you’re weak. And so you’ve got to develop a little bit of this accountability system or process if you’re leaning towards that relational side, when it comes to predictivity.

Perry Holley:    On the task side, if you took the task or production camp, you’ll need to value people as much as you value their abilities. And this is going to require you to recognize or show appreciation for the person behind the results that are happening. And this is so critical, is that because you’re a task and production person, you are really good at level three. You know how to set goals and hold people accountable and set a high standard and set expectations. But like Chris said earlier, you can leave people in the dust on that. So really having that appreciation and recognizing that you value the people behind the results.

Chris Goede:     I think we probably just lost half of our audience. They just turned the podcast off when you said that about appreciating the people, not just their abilities. So now we have one person listening instead of two. All right. Number two and three, when it comes to people in relationship side, remember if that’s your natural wiring, this is what we want you to be aware of. Number two, have an agenda when you’re meeting with people.

Perry Holley:    I’m laughing because when you come into a room, we have to have a timer.

Chris Goede:     Yes. I tend to get us off track and take us different places. It’s okay to stop and check in with people. Man, be very intentional about what the goals of that meeting are when you’re meeting with people. And then number three is set a relational time limit in meetings and we’re laughing at each other because we had a team meeting this morning, right? And we have someone leading the team meeting that’s very task oriented and it is a little bit of tension between she and I, maybe even some of the rest of our team about, “Nope, we only had three and a half minutes of the relational time. We got to get going.” But in formal meetings, our tendency some time is to spend too much time catching up, finding what’s going on and you got to be respectful of the other side of the room or the task people. But also you have to be respectful of the fact that we’re there to produce. And so you got to set a time limit on that.

Perry Holley:    That’s good. Well, it’s not so easy also on the other side, if you’re that task or production person. For you, number two would be express empathy for what’s happening in the lives of your people. Your tendency may be to focus so much on the work and what the person is doing that you don’t realize that everyone has something else going on in their life. So could you express some empathy to recognize them as a person, even though we’re in the midst of producing results.

And number three, kind of tightly related to that is listening to what people say and watch for non-verbal cues. The tendency may be if you’re task or production oriented may be that you provide direction and you just keep moving. Instead, take time to ask questions, listen to what others have to say. And I’m telling you, my big learning is listening may be the number one way you can show value to another person. So by letting them know that you see them, you recognize them. You need them. Now, yeah, you’re moving fast. You want to keep going. You want to keep them fully engaged. But again, you’re asking for a hand, you’ve got to touch a heart. So can you make them know and let them realize that you know that they’re there and show some empathy with them.

Chris Goede:     That’s good. Number four for my side, which is if your preference is people and relationships, you need to do your homework and know your numbers. I’ll never forget a meeting, this has probably been a couple years ago with Mark, our CEO. And he brought in the leaders of each one of our solutions groups and got into a conversation. And then he said, “Hey, real quick, before we get started with the agenda of the media, I’d like to kind of go around the room and hear numbers update on what’s going on in your business.”

And for those of you that are not on YouTube, Perry’s laughing at me because I’m in there wanting to talk about birthdays and football games and what’s going on relationally. And I learned a very, very, very valuable lesson that while that’s okay, that I’m naturally wired to that, I also have to have a system in place to know my numbers. And so now I do have that to where I know the numbers of my business. So what are the KPIs in your business, make sure that if you’re not familiar with what they are, it doesn’t even have to be tied to revenue. It could be tied to many different things, get that number from your leader and then always be prepared, always be looking at that, maybe have it on your phone, maybe have it in your notes section, have a process so that you know what that is and where the focus is, so you can share that if need be.

Perry Holley:    I was laughing up until I recalled that my first senior executive role reporting to a CEO, my first time ever owning a P&L and I was probably the third month into presenting the P&L and the CEO said, “You really don’t know what that’s about, do you?” But I go, “Well, I know where the numbers come from,” but he goes, “You do not know how the P&L were.” I go, “I do not.” And then I got me a coach and I realized that this is the point you made is exactly right. You’re not going to gain influence with people if you’re all the time about birthdays and anniversaries. That’s nice.

Chris Goede:     That’s nice. Yeah.

Perry Holley:    However, know how the business works. Do that.

Chris Goede:     That’s right.

Perry Holley:    All right. Number four. If your preference is task or production, you’re probably going to be pretty good on knowing how the business work. You’re going to need to go out of your way to encourage and compliment the people on your team that people need to know that they’re valued and appreciated. If you really want to engage people and on your team fully, they need to know that you value them. So again, you can see the trend going here is that on each side of this, on Chris’s side, the relationship leaning toward the people and on the task side, you’re really strong on the task and the production of results that we have to balance these two things to do that, but take us to number five.

Chris Goede:     And by the way, I didn’t mention this, but I love how you gave us five and-

Perry Holley:    Yeah.

Chris Goede:     Five times two. That’s 10, but two fives. The last one here for me is if your preference is people and relationships as a leader in how you’re wired, you need to praise effort, right? But you need to reward results. Only results. Just remember this. Oftentimes what you reward and what you bring attention to gets done. And that’s just a production thing. And we need to be aware of that. And so oftentimes we may get in a habit of, as a relationship person on the side here, of acknowledging and appreciating everything and the effort and everybody on the team. Right? And they’re like, “Wow. So all I have to do is really work hard and show up and I’m going to get some-”

Perry Holley:    Everybody kudos.

Chris Goede:     “… trophy.” Everybody gets a trophy. Yeah. Whether they’re producing or not. And that is not a behavior that you want to set as a leader. And so one of the things that I’ve really kind of focused around when it comes to rewarding and acknowledging results, is to be very specific when you do that.

Perry Holley:    Yes.

Chris Goede:     Yes, you want to commend everybody for working hard, but man, and appreciate their effort, but when it comes to rewarding, the results be specific on the result and why you’re rewarding that, and then you can do that.

Perry Holley:    Very good. And finally, number five, if you’re on the task and production leaning side, that you’re going to really need to respect people’s feelings and make it safe for them to share their feelings and share what they think. And this really comes from your preference for production and your tendency to set high standards and demand accountability from others. Well, that’s not a bad thing at all. We need that. We want to balance that by showing respect for the people on the team, communicate that they’re valued and communicate that you recognize what they bring to the team. It just tells people that you’re safe, that I can come to you. And it opens the door for more of that touching the heart, because you’re already asking for the hand pretty severely. You’re really good at that. But you don’t want to underestimate the power of touching that person with appreciation and value them that they know that they’re valued and part of the team.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. That’s good. Well, as we wrap up, I want to give you an activity. I want to give you something to try with your team. Now, if you’re an individual contributor, this is a great thing for you just to go through and say, “Hey, which side am I on? Do I have a natural lean towards the results or natural lean towards relationships?” But if you’re part of a team in your next team meeting, I want you to ask this question to the entire team. Are you task or people oriented and related? I want you to have them raise their hand. And then what I want you to do is I want you to kind of break the room up, break the task people over on one side, depending on your industry and where you guys are at, the ratio of that room varies.

Sometimes it’s 50/50, sometimes it’s not. And then what I want you to do is I want you to ask these two questions. What is it that drives you absolutely crazy about the other side of the room? That’s always fun. And then have them share that, the frustrations that come with that, and then I want you to ask them, what is it that you absolutely love and need from this individual that you don’t bring to the table. And then have a conversation around that and begin to understand you do need both.

And why I say that is not only do you need both as a team, but as a leader to increase your influence, you need to understand that you need both of those skill sets as well. And so getting very granular with that, you’ve got to make sure that you have again, systems and processes in place that help you, where you may need a little bit of help where you need opportunities just to grow. For Perry and I, again, we naturally lean towards the level two, the relationship side. So what are those systems and processes that we’re putting in place for the results. You may be the other way around and you might be like, “All right, enough of this people stuff. Let’s go.” And you’ve got to figure out, “Okay, I’ve got to slow down, set up a system and process to make sure that I’m tying into that.”

Perry Holley:    Yeah. Results is the name of the game. Thank you, Chris. And thank you all for joining. As Chris reminded you, if you want to know more about our offerings, these virtual classes that’ll be offered, if you want to download the learner guide, which has all of this that we just went through listed out for you, you can do all that at We’d also love it if you leave a comment or a question for us there. We love hearing from you, and we’re always grateful that you would join us here. That’s all today from the Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.

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