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John Adair created action centred leadership ACL and is one of the UK's foremost authorities on leadership.
Approaching leadership from a greatest impact dimension he looks at "what we have to do" and "the actions we need to take" paying considerable respect to teams and team process. Equally business processes and organisational structure.

Other Leadership models

  • Ken Blanchard (situational leadership)
  • JM Kouzes, BZ Posner (Leadership practices inventory)

Between these leadership giants teams are thankfully given high importance. Approach to leadership all focuses upon practical activities and dimensions - what we have to do and the actions we need to take aspects of leadership.

John Adair's model model uses three overlapping circles to represent:-

  • Achieve the task
  • Build and maintain the team
  • Develop the individual


Creating clear distinctions between "leadership" and "management" Adair's theory is highly practical demonstrating practical ways in which leadership can be taught in terms of transferable skills.

These overlap in circles identify with:

  • The task needs of team's - i.e. one person alone cannot accomplish all
  • Where team needs are not met - tasks suffer & individuals become dissatisfied
  • When individual needs are not met - team performance is impaired


Leadership Functions

Task definition

SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Constrained)


Environment  - open minded, positive and creative search for alternatives. Contingencies being planned for. Plans being tested


Team briefings to create the right atmosphere, foster teamwork and motivate individuals


Leaders require self-control,  good systems and monitoring skills. Effective delegation Maximum results, Minimum resources


Assess consequences, evaluate performance, appraise and train individuals


Adair identifies eight basic rules for motivating people* in his book Effective Motivation (Guildford: Talbot Adair Press, 1987). Adair also created the 50:50 rule which states that 50% of motivation comes from within a person and 50% from his or her environment and particularly the leadership they encounter



Good leaders need to be able to organise themselves, their team and their organisation

Setting an example

The best leaders naturally set a good example. If effort needs to be made it will slip and a bad example is noticed more than a good example

ACL's approach to Motivating Teams:

1 Be motivated yourself

2 Select motivated people

3 Treat each person as an individual

4 Set realistic but challenging targets

5 Understand that progress itself motivates

6 Create a motivating environment

7 Provide relevant rewards

8 Recognise success


Adair's work as with other leadership models align with motivational theorists such as Maslow, McGregor and Herzberg.

NMI approach to team development equally can be aligned with these models as well as organisational goals to achieve optimum team performance.