The Action Centred Leadership model by John Adair provides an excellent framework for the leadership of any team, group or organisation. Its simplicity makes it easy to remember, apply and to adapt to your own individual context.

Great leaders have full command of the three main elements of Adair’s model and can use each of them according to the situation. Being able to do all of these and in the right balance, can help to deliver results, engage the team and develop high performance.

The three parts are:

  • Achieving the TASK

  • Building the TEAM (or group)

  • Developing the INDIVIDUAL

The Action Centred Leadership model adapts really well to the demands of the modern world. When using it in your own environment think about the aspects of performance necessary for success in your own situation. Then, incorporate local relevant factors into the model to create your own interpretation. This will give you a very useful leadership & management framework.

Let’s take a look at each element in a little more detail:


Your responsibilities for achieving in the TASK element include:

  • identify the purpose, vision and targets for the group - the direction of travel

  • identify and secure the necessary resources (people, processes, systems and tools and finances) to achieve the purpose

  • create the strategy to achieve the purpose and identify key deliverables, measures, timescales, etc.

  • establish desired accountabilities and standards

  • monitor and report on progress towards the group's purpose


Your responsibilities as a leader for the TEAM (or Group) are:

  • establish the culture of the group

  • anticipate and resolve group conflict, struggles or disagreements

  • assess and change as necessary the balance and composition of the group

  • identify, develop and agree on the team roles within the group

  • consult with, seek feedback and input from the group


Your responsibilities as a leader for each INDIVIDUAL are:

  • seek to understand the team members as people - their personality, skills, strengths, needs, aims and fears

  • identify and agree on relevant individual responsibilities and objectives

  • give recognition and praise to individuals - acknowledge effort and good work

  • identify, develop and utilise each individual's capabilities and strengths

  • develop individual freedom and authority

The Action Centred Leadership model is Adair's best-known work, in which the three elements are mutually dependent, as well as being separately essential to the overall leadership role.

Importantly, Adair also set out these core functions of leadership and says they are vital to the Action Centred Leadership model:

  • Planning - seeking information, defining tasks, setting aims Initiating - briefing, task allocation, setting standards

  • Controlling - maintaining standards, ensuring progress, ongoing decision-making

  • Supporting - individuals' contributions, encouraging, team spirit, reconciling, morale

  • Informing - clarifying tasks and plans, updating, receiving feedback and interpreting

  • Evaluating - feasibility of ideas, performance, enabling self-assessment

The Action Centred Leadership model does not stand alone and works best as an integrated approach to leadership.

Adair also promotes a '50:50 rule' which he applies to various situations involving two possible influencers, e.g. the view that 50% of motivation lies with the individual and 50% comes from external factors, among them leadership from another.

This contradicts most of the thought leaders who assert that most motivation is from within the individual. He also suggests that 50% of team building success comes from the team and 50% from the leader.

We have great respect for Adair's work - it's far more accessible and relevant than other, more traditional leadership models. You can easily see how it gets right to the heart of the leadership role, explaining very simply why some leaders succeed and others do not.