What is John Adair’s Theory on Leadership?

John Adair Leadership

A popular and long-surviving idea on how to effectively manage employees, John Adair’s Leadership teamwork theory has been implemented in workforces and companies across the globe.

Defined by leadership expert John Adair in his 1973 book “The Action-Centred Leader”, this ever-popular teamwork theory is a simple yet effective way of explaining actions that need to be taken in order to become an effective leader. Regardless of industry or what level of management you want to improve, John Adair’s Leadership theory is definitely worth having a read about.

What is John Adair Leadership?

Rather than focusing on a specific style of leadership, Adair Leadership is a set of core ideas and principles that must be adhered to if you’re looking to achieve success in a project. These three principles are:

John Adair Leadership

Task – The actions that need to be taken in order to achieve the goal

Team – Actions that must be taken at a group-level, including teamwork and effective commu­nica­tion

Individual – The individual needs and requirements from each member of the workgroup

The overlapping areas show where more than one area will need to work together in harmony in order to succeed. Therefore, as shown above, it is important to achieve as much of an equal balance as possible between these three areas. Of course, this isn’t always exactly achievable, and an imbalance in one of these areas can greatly affect the other two.


How to Practice Adair Leadership

Whilst the parti­cipa­tion and efforts of employees is necessary, there are also three key areas where leaders need to develop in order to manage effectively. Start out by drawing out your own circles like the diagram above, with different sizes attributed to where you think your skills are strong/­lacking (For example, you might be fantastic at hitting targets “task”, but lack in attention when it comes to Individuals and the Team overall).

Develop Leadership Skills

There are a number of ways in which leaders can develop their skills to become effective managers. Whether you’re a leader, strategic manager or head of operations, these skills are essential to a successful John Adair Leadership model.

Achieving Tasks

  • Defining the Task and laying out the vision and direction in mind for a particular project
  • Identifying Resources and taking stock of what tools, people and processes are available

  • Creating a plan to the task, including deadlines and timescales for each section of the project

  • Establishing Roles and clearly defining who takes care of which respon­sibi­lities

  • Delegating work & assigning sub-tasks to smaller groups or individuals

  • Effective Monitoring and reporting on progress and making sure everyone is sticking to the direction of the project, according to the original plan

Managing Teams

  • Setting a standard for how the team behaves and communicates with each other
  • Assigning roles and respon­sibi­lities to members based on strengths and weaknesses

  • Develop a sense of morale and spirit amongst members

  • Maintaining focus on the task at hand and setting discipline standards

  • Keep an eye on arising conflict within the group

  • Fill in gaps by providing additional training if or when needed

  • Engage in group feedback by both giving feedback to the group and receiving it from them



Managing Individuals

  • Being empathetic and approachable when dealing with individuals’ personal issues
  • Provide support where/when needed
  •  Explaining to individuals what their roles and respon­sibi­lities are within the group
  •  Giving regular praise and recognition to group members
  • Rewarding individuals for their efforts (gifts, increased respon­sibi­lities, etc.)
  •  Working to develop individual skills, abilities and respon­sibi­lities

A Summary of John Adair Action Centred Leadership

As a leader, you will already know that there are almost an endless list of factors you need to take into consi­dera­tion. As this is a simple teamwork theory to remember, we recommend using John Adair’s Leadership structure as a basis for your leadership style. By analysing your workforce and drawing out your own circle diagram, you can use this strategy to keep tabs on progress when it comes to completing projects.

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