Managing the task, team and individual

John Adair’s Action-Centred Leadership model views the role of leaders as integrating three areas: ensuring that the task, the team and the individual are working effectively and that their needs are met. Success relies on ensuring that all three responsibilities are mutually reinforcing.


As a leader, people look to you to set the direction, to support them, to help them achieve their goals, to ensure that team members work well together .and to make sure that the structures and procedures are in place (and working effectively). It is not enough to have a great idea; you are responsible for making it happen. In short, leadership is a total activity. If individuals aren’t motivated, teams will not function well; if teams don’t work well, tasks will fail and individual satisfaction falls, and so on. Whether you are leading one team, a business unit or an entire company, you need to provide for:

·         the needs of the task – provide the appropriate systems, procedures and structures

·         the needs of the team – promote team cohesiveness so that team members work well together

·         the needs of the individual – engage each person (by considering pay, their sense of purpose, their need to have achievements and contributions recognized, and their need for status and to be part of something that matters).

A functional approach to leadership

To provide for the needs of the task, team and individuals, John Adair out-lines eight leadership functions:

1.       Define the task. Everyone needs to understand what is expected, so be clear about the task at hand – make it SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-constrained).

2.       Plan. Identify options, look for alternatives, make contingency plans and test your ideas. Working with others in a positive, open-minded, constructive and creative way will help you to develop the best plan.

3.       Brief others. To create the right conditions and bring people with you, you have to keep people informed. Both teams and individuals will work well only if they have access to information and your thinking – without open communication, confusion or even distrust can seriously hamper business strategy.

4.       Control effectively. You need self-control and you need to positively control others. Put the right procedures and monitoring in place, delegate tasks and trust others to both take responsibility and deliver results.

5.       Evaluate. Assess likely consequences, measure and judge the performance of both teams and individuals and provide necessary feedback and training.

6.       Motivate. Motivate yourself – if you are not motivated, it will be difficult to motivate others. Recruit people who are highly motivated. Set realistic and achievable targets – people respond to doable goal Focus on progress, reward success and recognize achievements.

7.       Be organized. Be organized yourself and ensure that teams and individuals have the necessary skills, procedures, structures and resources in place for them to do their jobs efficiently.

8.       Set the right example. The example you set to others influences their behaviour, motivation and willingness to follow you.