Action-Centred Leadership (John Adair)

John Adair’s Action-Centred Leadership contains three core management responsibilities:

  • Achieving the task
  • Managing the team or group
  • Managing individuals

When using the model in your own environment think about the aspects of performance necessary for success in your own situation, and incorporate local relevant factors into the model to create your own interpretation. This will give you a very useful management framework. You can find out more about Adair’s work here.

Checklist for meeting individual needs

  1. Have I agreed with each of my team their key responsibilities and required standards of performance?
  2. Does my team have all the resources necessary to achieve their key tasks (including sufficient authority)?
  3. Have I made provision for the training and development of team members?
  4. Do I praise excellent performance? In the case of average performance, do I criticise constructively and provide, where appropriate, help and guidance?
  5. Have I achieved the right balance between controlling and letting go?
  6. Could I delegate additional authority? For example, could Pierre arrange the project meeting and run it? Could David take on some of my existing reporting relationships?
  7. Do I engage in regular team and individual performance reviews?
  8. Do I know enough about each team member to enable me to have an accurate understanding of individual needs, strengths and development needs?

Checklist for Achieving the Task

  1. Am I clear about my own responsibilities and authority?  Have I agreed this with my boss?
  2. Am quite clear about the objective of my team/unit?
  3. Have I worked out an action plan for reaching these objectives and discussed it with my team?
  4. Is the team sufficiently capable?  Could the team have been restructured to deliver better results?
  5. Does everyone know exactly what their role and key responsibilities are? Does each team member have clearly defined and agreed performance targets?
  6. Is anyone overloaded or insufficiently allocated a workload?
  7. Are the lines of authority and accountability clear within the team?
  8. Are there any capability gaps in the team (including me) that might prevent us from achieving our goals? If so, what are plans for addressing these gaps?
  9. Are we focused on the right priorities?
  10. Do I receive regular information that enables me to check progress?
  11. Do I regularly review performance?  Have I achieved the tasks set 12 months ago?
  12. Does my work and behaviour set the best possible example to the team?

Checklist for maintaining the team?

  1. Do I set team objectives with members and ensure that everyone understands them?
  2. Is the team clear as to the working standards expected, e.g. in timekeeping, quality of work, procedures?  Am I fair and impartial in enforcing the rules?  Is the team aware of the consequences of infringement (penalties)?
  3. Is the size of the team correct and are the right people working together?  Is there a need for new teams to be developed?
  4. Do I look for opportunities for building teamwork into tasks?
  5. Do I take action on matters likely to disrupt the team, e.g. unjustified differentials in reward, and uneven workload?
  6. Is the grievance procedure understood by all?  Do I deal with grievances and complaints promptly?
  7. Do I welcome and encourage new ideas and suggestions from the team?
  8. Do I provide regular opportunities for genuine discussion of the team before taking decisions affecting them, e.g. decisions relating to work plans, work methods and standards?
  9. Do I regularly brief the team (e.g. monthly) on the organisation’s plans and any future developments?
  10. Is the overall performance of each individual regularly (e.g. annually) reviewed?
  11. Am I sure that, for individual work, capability and reward are aligned appropriately?
  12. If, after opportunities for training and development, an individual is still not meeting the requirements of the job, do I try and find a position for them which matches their capacity – or see that someone else does?
  13. Do I know enough about the members of the team to enable me to have an accurate picture of their needs, attitudes and attitudes? Do I really know how they feel about things? (stakeholder mapping)
  14. Do I give sufficient time and personal attention to matters of direct concern to team members?