A task is something “to do”, an objective is something “to achieve”.
A great leader doesn’t lead their staff to think like robots, they rather strive to get their team thinking and acting independently. Independent thinkers who have accepted responsibility to think about their work as a set of things to be achieved, rather than a list of things to be done. Staff who achieve more think about objectives over tasks. A task is something to do, an objective is something to achieve. A task is usually viewed with a fixed gofer like mindset. As a consequence rarely when someone is thinking about something to be done, do they show willingness or capability to adapt. An objective meanwhile is something that forces the mind to focus on the end point and hence requires the person to adapt their journey to get to that goal.
When staff who think “tasks” encounter something out of their framework of how they understand the “task”, they will often stop and sometimes give up. A typical failing of “task mentality” staff is to try something once and when it doesnt work out they believe they have accomplished to a satisfactory level what they were asked to do, so they stop. For example the staff member who was assigned to call a client, telling you in a meeting they did call the client but they were out. A “task mentality” staff member will often believe this is a satisfactory reason to justify not being accountable for what they were asked to do.
“Task mentality” staff often try something once and give up at the first hurdle.
“Objective mindset” staff meanwhile see things differently. They focus on the end point to be achieved and hence see hurdles merely as something to be overcome. “Objective mentality” staff identify with the purpose of the goal they have been asked to do and will be less likely to give up in the face of diversions or challenges. For example an objective mentality staff will try again to phone a client and usually think about why the the client is not answering, i.e. the person is on their lunch break so I must call later or they are in a different timezone etc… They will also propose alternatives ways to get to goals, as they feel responsible for the objectives. Objective mindsets also help perfectionists to see beyond doing one concrete tasks perfectly, regardless of whether worth the time, and instead look at the bigger picture and see how important is this specific thing to achieving my macro goals (objectives).
“Objective mentality” staff overcomes hurdles.
A great manager thinks about “objectives” over “tasks”. They practice stewardship delegation and pass on the purpose of a task and get staff to understand and identify personally with the difference achieving that goal will make. They encourage staff to think for themselves and see a hurdle as something to be jumped, dug under, walked around or removed. The staff they lead don’t give up at the first attempt, they rather keep going until the objective is achieved. An “objective mentality” not only helps us achieve more but also helps morale as it is gives greater purpose to work and hence is far more motivational to focus on things to be achieved over things to be done.
Objective mindsets achieve more.
What to do?
Think about a scenario when you or a staff member showed a “task mentality” to a recent piece of work. Why did you have this “task mentality”? What was the consequence of that mentality? Now try to think about how you could have seen that piece of work through an “objective mentality”. What would you have done differently? What was the objective that needed to be achieved?