Action Centered Leadership – A Comprehensive Approach

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It is a leader’s responsibility to build a team, train team members and motivate them to complete a job. Selection of team members is crucial for a team leader as his failure or success depends on the performance of individuals making up a team. In this article, we will learn about John Adair’s ‘Action Centered Leadership’ model.

Action Centered

Action Centered Leadership – Origin and Objective

‘Action Centered Leadership’ model was propounded by theorist John Adair in 1970’s. This renowned theorist under this hypothesis stated that leaders in every sphere are accountable for a task, an individual and a team. These three aspects could ideally be represented by three overlapping Venn diagrams. A leader needs to achieve a task either individually or with a team.

John Adair proposed that leadership essentially has three basic aspects:

  • Achievement of objectives – Leaders are expected to complete tasks with the help of a team. Often, a task requires formation of a team.
  • Formation of a team – Most assignments could only be achieved by teamwork. Once an objective is set for a leader, his immediate step would be to have a team which is capable of realizing this objective in the best possible manner.
  • Motivating team members – Together with the leader, every team member must be motivated to achieve a common goal or objective. Even a single de-motivated member could become a hindrance for a leader and his team. It is the responsibility of a leader to have members motivated and focused on achieving an objective.

Action Centered Leadership - Leadership Functions

According to John Adair, the foresaid leadership objectives are achievable by following certain actions also termed as leadership functions. Though it is commonly said leaders are born rather than made, there are certain parameters that define leadership. For a leader it is important to have these criteria fulfilled.

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# Defining objectives

For a leader it is essential to define an objective appropriately to team members. In short these objectives need to be S.M.A.R.T. Here S represents ‘specific’ wherein a task needs to be focused and not all-pervasive. M stands for ‘measurable’ in the sense that task in hand is quantifiable in tangible units; it could be revenue target in ‘dollars’, or production target in ‘tons’. A implies ‘achievable’. This is crucial for any kind of target. Target of any form should be achievable as setting an unachievable target is meaningless as it would fail to motivate team members. R represents ‘realistic’, which also is another expression of achievable. T stands for ‘time-constrained’. Any target or objective is bound by time. Targets are fixed for a day, a week, a quarter, or a year. Most business houses and manufacturing units work on an annual target broken into quarters.

# Organization

Organization is an essential quality of a leader. Here organization refers to both on personal and team perspectives. A leader at the outset must be personally thoroughly organized so that other team members follow by example. An unorganized leader sets a poor example for his team and also fails in inspiring them. If a leader stays disorganized, it is difficult to have other team members committed and motivated.

# Planning

Planning is essential for any form of activity. There is a common parlance stating ‘plan your work, and then work your plan’, which in effect is the best way to have your objective fulfilled. Any task requires meticulous planning for proper execution and completion. During planning process, contingencies should be reserved for unexpected occurrences. In absence of such provisions, a plan could fail in case exigencies arise during a work process.

# Communication

Effective communication is an extremely vital component of good leadership. A leader must be able to communicate his or her ideas clearly to the team members both orally and in writing. Communication is an art and must be perfected by a leader. A leader should ensure that instructions are understood fully by team members. For effective communication, a feedback should be solicited for every instruction given. A gap in communication is dangerous and must never be allowed to happen.

# Evaluation

For a leader, it is necessary to evaluate a planned process at regular intervals to check progress of work and make changes if required. Evaluation of individual as well as team performance is vital. For instance, for achieving an annual sales target, it is necessary to have review sessions at the end of every month or quarter. Such interim evaluations help in assessing the progress of work.

# Delegation

This is another management process by which an entire task is broken down into smaller fragments and distributed among team members for effective completion. Delegation and accountability work hand in hand. When a work is delegated, accountability for it sets in automatically.

# Control

Delegating tasks necessitates close monitoring of the different fragments. The principal reason for delegating responsibility is to have a particular fragment completed to its fullest. All these fragments being part of an entirety need to be completed in unison for completion of a project or fulfillment of an objective within a defined time-frame. Whenever tasks are delegated, a strict control over them is expected of a capable leader.

# Motivation

No task could be pursued without motivation. Though motivation is self imbibed, an external stimulus always helps. A leader provides this external stimulus or inspiration. Team members need to be kept positive and focused at every point of time. Digression from focus is harmful both for the team leader and team members. A leader must not allow negativity to set within a team.

# Leading by example

Leading from the front is an excellent motivation for any team. Only when a leader leads by example, he or she is looked upon with respect and obeyed. If a team leader stays focused and committed, the other team members are expected to behave likewise.

To sum up

Adair’s Action Centered Leadership concept is not a standalone model, but part of a comprehensive approach. It takes into consideration external factors like team building and working environment. Work environment is very important for a leader to function ideally. There should be a favorable platform for a leader to act and perform with a dedicated team.

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