Task-oriented and relationship-oriented leadership

 Task-oriented and relationship-oriented leadership

…a pair that should be kept a pair

By Rev Clifford Chisha

For an organisation to perform well and that good performance to be sustained, balanced leadership is cardinal.

Balanced leadership is a combination of both task-oriented and relationship-oriented leadership.

Task-oriented and relationship-oriented leadership is a pair that should be kept a pair for balanced leadership to be provided.

A close look at apostle Paul’s leadership style shows some traces of the task-oriented leadership model.
He seemed to have been a task-oriented leader.
Barnabas on the other hand seems to show traces of a relationship-oriented leadership model.

Acts 15:37-38
“Now Barnabas wanted to take [his cousin] John, who was called Mark, along with them.”
“But Paul kept insisting that they should not take along with them the one who had quit and deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work.”

Paul was against the idea of taking with them John Mark who deserted them in Pamphylia because he did not continue with them in the work.
John Mark did not finish the task that was at hand.Paul wasn’t happy that John Mark deserted them.
The Bible has not given a specific reason why John Mark turned back.
Apostle Paul seemed to have been task-oriented and the fact that John Mark turned back at Perga did not go well with him.
Barnabas who seemed to have been a relationship-oriented leader wanted John Mark to be part of the second missionary trip.
He overlooked John Mark’s “betrayal.”

Acts 15:39-40
“And it became such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took [John] Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.”
“But Paul chose Silas [who was again in Antioch] and set out [on his second journey], commended by the brothers to the grace and favor of the Lord.”

Paul and Barnabas ended up going separate ways.

The task-relationship model is defined by Forsyth as “a descriptive model of leadership which maintains that most leadership behaviors can be classified as performance maintenance or relationship maintenances.”

Task-oriented (or task-focused) leadership is a behavioral approach in which the leader focuses on the tasks that need to be performed in order to meet certain goals, or to achieve a certain performance standard.

Leaders who are task oriented tend to focus so much on the task at hand and usually end up overlooking the welfare of the people carrying out the task.
They want the set performance standard met or achieved by all means.
Task-oriented leaders usually care less about relationships.
If left alone,task oriented leaders can cause people to get demotivated.

In certain circumstances,task oriented leaders do very well.
They produce results.

Relationship-oriented (or relationship-focused) leadership is a behavioral approach in which the leader focuses on the satisfaction, motivation and the general well-being of the team members.

A leader who is relationship-oriented usually focuses more on people’s welfare,and this is sometimes done at the expense of completing the tasks at hand.

On the other hand,under this leadership,people carrying out the tasks are motivated and satisfied.

Both leadership models produce varying outcomes under different circumstances.

It pays to have both leadership models in an organisation or church.
Some organisations or churches have a privilege of having top leaders who fall in two different leadership models.
This brings balance.

Task oriented leaders sometimes think they are the only ones who make the organisation or church tick and relationship-oriented leaders may also think the same.

What works well is a combination of the two leadership models.

Most churches and organisations have made a grave mistake of only tolerating or favouring one leadership model.
This has caused imbalance.

Both Barnabas and Paul’s assistants (John Mark and Silas) went on to have significant ministries.
They were successful.

By the end of Paul’s life,he came to admire John Mark so much that he requested him to come to be with him during his final days. (2 Timothy 4:11).

Task-oriented and relationship-oriented leadership is a pair and ceases to be a pair if one is missing.
Check the leadership model you favour and look for the missing part.

If you are a task-oriented leader,identify a relationship-oriented leader and work closely with them to complete the equation.
You need balance.

Alice Nachilembe


Alice Nachilembe is a Journalist who yearns for a better country with leaders being accountable to their mandate without oppressing the governed.

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