If you are a leader in any industry at any level, and you want to be truly effective, you must be fully aware of one thing - paradoxically, most of the leaders that I have met are not completely aware of this one thing.

What one thing am I talking about?

I am talking about the razor-sharp, clear, and abysmal difference and distinction between Task and Relationship.

Please let me explain.

Historically, humans have always focused their attention on task:

Why were you hired when you first graduated from university? You were hired because you had learned a competency that enables you to perform a task - call it what you will: engineering, finances, marketing, etc.

What do you focus on when you are in a meeting? You focus on the task at hand.

Why can your company make money? Your company is profitable because it performs a series of tasks – in any industry – that fulfill the needs of your company's clients.

And I could go on and on... task, task, and task …

However, the quality of the task your Department - or your Division or your Company - performs is directly determined by the quality of the relationships between the people who are involved in performing such task.

If the quality of the relationships in your meeting is poor, it is very likely that the quality of the task at hand - decision-making for example - be poor as well.

And vice versa, if the quality of the relationship in your meeting is high, it is very likely that the quality of the decision you make be high.

If you have the skills to facilitate a decision-making meeting, if you know how to manage conflict as a creative force, if you have the ability to build trust among your direct reports, etc. (in other words, if the quality of the relationships in your meeting is high), it is more likely that the quality of the decision you make in your meeting be high.

From a large-scale point of view, the quality of the tasks your company performs is directly determined by the quality of the relationships in your company, like hiring, performance management, problem solving, and the like.

I am NOT saying that Relationship is more important than Task. It is not a question of importance - it is a question of methodology.

What I AM saying is that the Relationship is before the Task: Relationship is first among its equal partner the Task.

Here is one way to depict this correlation in a graphical way:

The better the quality of your relationship the better your resulting task - and vice versa, the poorer the quality of your relationship the poorer your resulting task.

Conclusion, if you focus on strategy, finances or marking (tasks) but your leadership (relationships) is poor, you will never build a high performance organization with a truly sustainable competitive advantage - remember, "leadership is first among equals" (if you haven't done so, I highly suggest you read this short article as well).

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See you next month!
Jose Luis Romero - Publisher
May 3, 2011. Copyright: All rights reserved
I publish "Leader Newsletter" on the first Tuesday of every month

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