Action Centered Leadership

Action Centered Leadership

Whilst there are a myriad of different leadership models, John Adair's Action Centered Leadership is one of our favourites.

So why is it one of our favourites? Simply put, it is one of the more pragmatic models, as it provides a blueprint for the effective leadership and management of a team.


Underlying Principals

John Adair's Action-Centred Leadership model is represented by Adair's 'three circles' diagram, which illustrates Adair's three core management responsibilities:

  • Task: Achieving the team’s goal
  • Team: Developing and building the team
  • Individual: Helping individuals to develop


Task: Achieve the Team’s Goal 

Task Action
Define the Task Craft a shared vision. why does the team exist?
Define the Plan Develop a detailed plan. How will the team accomplish it's task?
Define the System Identify resources; process and tools needed to support the plan
Define the Team Identify what people are needed; their roles and responsibilities?
Set the Standards Set standards: work quality, timeliness and reporting
Controlling Control and maintain activities against set standards
Monitoring Monitor and maintain overall performance against plan
Reviewing Review and adjust plan, methods and targets as necessary


Team: Develop and Build the Team

Task Action
Define Expectations Establish and agree on acceptable standards of performance and behaviour
Maintain Discipline Monitor and maintain discipline, ethics, integrity and focus on objectives
Manage Conflict Anticipate and resolve group conflict, struggles or disagreements
Promote Communication Establish and promote an open communication within the team and with stakeholders
Develop Skills Identify and meet the team's immediate and future training and development needs
Develop Maturity Develop the collective maturity of the team. Progressively increase team authority.
Team Building Develop team-working, cooperation, morale and team-spirit
Foster Feedback Culture Provide and seek regular team feedback on overall task progress and team-related issues faced


Individual: Help Individuals to Develop and Grow

Task Action
Build Focus Keep individuals on track. Clarify individual objectives
Relate Better Identify individual behavioural styles, needs and aspirations
Nurture Performance Assess and develop individual strengths and minimise limitations
Coach Help individuals to develop plans, solve problems and overcome challenges
Provide Recognition Provide recognition and praise to individuals for good effort and work
Provide Rewards Where appropriate reward individuals with added responsibilities and advancement
Feedback & Feedforward Provide constructive feedback and feedforward
Individual Development Help individuals to identify and agree on their developmental path


Be A Leader

So where should you start? Adair noted the following 6 core functions as being vital to the Action Centered Leadership model:

  1. Planning - seeking information, defining tasks, setting aims
  2. Initiating - briefing, task allocation, setting standards
  3. Controlling - maintaining standards, ensuring progress, ongoing decision-making
  4. Supporting - individuals' contributions, encouraging, team spirit, reconciling, morale
  5. Informing - clarifying tasks and plans, updating, receiving feedback and interpreting
  6. Evaluating - feasibility of ideas, performance, enabling self assessment

Actions speak louder than works. Don't just think about being a better leader. Be one!