Why Task-Oriented Leaders Lose Talent

Article by John Grover on September 12, 2019
John Grover
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It's 2002. I’m 26 and fired-up. I have a brand new MBA diploma on the wall and have been promoted to my first management job leading a small consulting team. I’m ready to win. I have a sense of urgency, and I know exactly how to get results: I’m going to grind! I’m going to load everyone up with work, bill some amazing numbers, wake up tomorrow, and do it all again.

Five months into my new leadership post one of my best engineers, Todd, comes into my office and with tears in his eyes, sits down and says, “I just can’t do it anymore John. I feel like I’m in a meat grinder with no way out. I’m so stressed out; it’s affecting my health and my marriage ... so I gotta leave.”

At the height of a RECESSION? I think, “WOW, that's weird. This hurts, but we’ll snap back, I have another ace engineer that can step up.” Well, guess what happened? That’s right. He resigned too only a few weeks after Todd. That’s a third of my team! OUCH.

I was learning some lessons: 1) my employees have lots of options of where to work. 2) You can’t put up great numbers with a team that doesn’t exist! What’s most embarrassing I didn’t even know these awesome engineers were stressed out to the point of quitting!

A lot of time has passed since then. Even still, I ask myself questions like, what kind of leader are you? Is leadership all about being laser-focused on the tasks at hand, watching the bottom line, ROIs, and making damn sure everyone is doing what they should be doing? No way!

Most leaders I meet agree that the ability to execute and get sh-t done (GSD) is a key driver of success for leaders today. But I’d suggest that it’s the single-minded obsession over accomplishing tasks efficiently can also become a leader’s downfall, resulting in unintended consequences for the individual, as well as for their teams.



You, like many action-oriented high achievers, detest low performance. Given that, here’s your challenge: What actions are you going to take to improve your “People Positive” leadership today?


John Grover is the Chief People Officer and Owner of Endsight. John received his MBA from the University of Phoenix, a bachelor's degree from Auburn University, and earned technical certifications from both Microsoft and Cisco. He was also recently accepted into Harvard Business School's Certificate of Management Excellence program. John is a lifelong learner, constantly pursuing expanding his understanding both inside and outside the classroom. In addition to being an avid mountain biker and surfer, John is dedicated to reading over 50 books a year to improve himself as a leader, father, husband, and athlete. He is also passionate about empowering others to do the same. In the last year, John has written over 60 articles on such topics as leadership, company values, and learning.

Tags: Culture, Leadership

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