I was working with an executive team last week and we had a great discussion about the importance of having leaders who are able to deliver on tasks as well as take others along for the journey by building trust and developing people. It’s a great debate to have… What is more important: Leaders who just get it done, or leaders who inspire, engage and empower others to get it done? Is it about a balance?

The answer seems obvious, however what we measure when recruiting for and developing leaders does not always deliver the results we desire!

At BRS we are massive advocates of the Human Synergistics frameworks and tools to measure leadership effectiveness. It’s an incredibly effective evidenced based approach to driving a constructive culture and developing people. If you divide the Circumplex vertically down the centre, you find that on the left you have behaviours that are task driven and on the right are the people driven behaviours. During my session with the executive team the question that was raised “When using the Circumplex as a tool to recruit and develop the most senior leaders in an organisation, which side is more important?”

My response to the team was this: I believe the higher you go in the organisation, the more important the people orientation side of the Circumplex due to the ripple effect. Leaders, who build trust, align on expectations, communicate the vision, and empower people as well as coach for high performance will have a greater chance of delivering sustained success than those that who don’t!

The higher you climb the larger the head count of people who will be affected and influenced by your actions. The shadow of a leader casts far and wide, therefore letting go of the task and connecting to the people is critical.

Don’t get me wrong I am not discrediting the need for technical skills amongst your leadership team or the ability to achieve outcomes and targets. However the danger is if the people skills are not developed delivering on task becomes a place to hide.

The need for people skills and a people orientation in a leader seems logical and obvious, but it is rarely the way we promote people into such positions. We often look at a candidate’s track record to deliver, we measure their technical skills, and we value what they have achieved personally. These things are important… However for executive and CEO roles, these are not the skills that will get you the long term sustainable results you desire.

In a senior leadership role your greatest achievements come through others, through the growth of your people, the experience of your clients, and the reputation of your organisation. Therefore the leader’s role needs to focus predominately on creating the right environment, articulating the vision and empowering the team! Leader’s results are shared outcomes achieved with people and through people. It’s signs of success in those areas we should be looking for when reviewing someone’s track record!

When you recruit for a senior leadership team think about the skills that are required to drive high performance across the organisation in a constructive manner. Where is the organisation’s current senior leadership team putting their energy in relation to people and task orientation? To illustrate this message we have developed a simple and effective tool that you can use as a guide to get your people v’s task balance right at the various levels of an organisation. -Kym Williams

Click here to download the: People V’s Task Orientation Leadership Triangle