Action Centered Leadership: Definition, Examples, Pros & Cons

An action-oriented leader has a vision and an action plan to achieve goals. They ensure they reach their targets through challenges, conflicts, or complex situations. 

They lead with a sense of direction and clarity. Keeping the team motivated to achieve collective goals is the result of action-centric leadership. 

They have a clear vision of the scope and limitation of resources which helps them achieve realistic goals. It is essential to have clarity about providing day-to-day instructions to complete daily tasks. 

Offering guidance, providing the correct time frame for deadlines, and knowing which task to delegate based on the skill sets of individuals are some of the essential traits of leaders. 

What Is Action-Centred Leadership?

Action-centered leadership is a leadership model that emphasizes achieving tasks through the efforts of a team while also focusing on the development of team members.

British leadership theorist John Adair developed it and involved achieving a balance between achieving results and developing the people who make up the team.

The model is based on three core elements:

👉Achieving the task.

👉Building and maintaining the team.

👉Developing individual team members.

By focusing on these three areas, action-centered leaders can create a productive and motivated team working together to achieve shared goals.

Action Centered Leadership Characteristic

Planning And Development

Long-term and short-term goals are planned, considering the growth of the team. It involves managing, controlling, and developing teams effectively.

Providing and gathering information to delegate clearly defined tasks. Briefing teams and setting benchmarks to improve performance is vital to planning and development.


Accessing the performance of individuals and teams to know their strengths and weaknesses. Assisting and encouraging groups and individuals to perform better and designing better strategies to improve performance to reach goals faster. 

It also helps in planning resource management and prevents wastage. Setting standards by defining parameters to reach individual and team goals. 

Evaluating personalities of individuals and teams as it affects the working style. Evaluating personalities and work styles is critical, especially in a diverse culture. It helps leaders create a plan to bring the best of collaborative efforts. 

Clear Defined Goals

The vision of the action-centric leader includes not only clear direction to achieve goals but also values, beliefs, and actions. 

It helps in creating a work culture that makes a comfortable environment for everyone to work in. For instance, many organizations work towards making the best product and giving back something of value to society as it becomes a part of their vision. 

Having a vision with values and beliefs boosts employee morale and improves performance. It helps employees understand expectations and outcomes and follow a path to achieving goals. It prevents ambiguity. 

It inspires loyalty, and a compassionate attitude, increases enthusiasm, and challenges employees and teams to reach excellence. 

Ethical Behavior

Honesty and integrity are the foundations of building trust and credibility. Leaders can encourage ethical behavior within the company through transparency and open communication. 

When employees feel restricted or will not be heard, they are likely to develop unhealthy passive-aggressive behavior, leading to unethical behavior.

Leaders must practice open communication with their employees as it builds trust. Encouraging good values and morals creates a better environment to work. When clear goals and values are set, hiring people with similar values becomes easier. 

Action-centric leaders can promote ethical behavior by avoiding being biased. Fairness instills confidence among employees and builds healthy relations within the organization. 

Assessing Team Members’ Strengths and Weaknesses

It gives a leader insights to delegate the right amount of work to their team members. It is easier to get the job done when you understand team members’ capacity, capability, and personality to let them shine outdoing themselves. 

It clarifies setting roles and assigning responsibilities to individuals in the team. It saves time and prevents duplication and redundancy. 

Leaders can motivate team members by setting higher standards, providing feedback and guidance, and correcting unproductive behavior. 


  • This leadership model can be used at every level in the organizational hierarchy.
  • It can be used effectively in any industry.
  • The team works collaboratively and efficiently towards a common goal.
  • It leads to the group and personal development.
  • It builds better relationships and boosts the morale of employees.


  • Companies that follow the linear and traditional management structure can find it redundant.
  • Companies with a hierarchy and firm faith in role-playing can find it simplistic.
When To Use Action Centered Leadership

Examples of Action Centered Leaders

Managing teams comes with many responsibilities. Handling people’s ideologies and emotions and making changes while also reaching deadlines are the responsibilities of a leader.

Setting standards and making rules is one of the essential responsibilities of a leader. It helps the team understand how to communicate and follow a set procedure to conduct themselves. 

Rules Of Communication 

Rules Of Communication

Communication is an essential part of every job. It leads to making or breaking bonds. As a leader, evaluating the communication style and setting standards are necessary. 

Unfortunately, most companies allow colloquial language, which shows a lack of professionalism. A leader can set standards of communication within the organization. It helps individuals and teams focus on how they communicate orally and in writing. 

Setting rules for individuals and teams regarding how things will be communicated can help prevent conflicts and encourage candid and constructive communication. 

Creating communication rules and setting the tone can help team members be active listeners and communicate effectively. 

Reaching Deadlines

Reaching Deadlines

Within a team, individuals’ habits, speed, and performance vary. In addition, sometimes unforeseen situations arise, such as team members being sick or natural calamities such as power failures, etc. 

Leaders must devise strategies to reach deadlines and have an action plan to deal with these situations. Monitoring team dynamics and encouraging constructive communication keep toxic competitive behavior in check. 

Setting a code of conduct and monitoring daily activity can provide valuable insights to boost the team’s performance. 

In addition, creating exercises that build better team bonds and encouraging them to develop an action plan to complete tasks can boost individual and team performance. 

Handling Competition

Individuals compete with each other. When internal competition within the organization becomes toxic, it decreases performance and morale. Therefore, a leader must develop exercises to help team members value each other and set benchmarks for themselves.

It is essential to check the mental states, emotions, and motives of the team and individuals and rectify any toxic behaviors. 

Developing Various Leadership Roles

Various leadership roles are developed within an organization for smoother running of operations. For instance, a strategic leader has a different role than a team leader.

Every leadership role is well-defined and comes with a set of rules, scope, and responsibilities. For instance, an operational leader can design plans, goals, and networking within and outside the organization. 

Operational leaders initials, create an action plan and manage the project. A team leader has smaller tasks to perform. A team leader defines tasks, manages the team, and provides support, training, and development.

A strategic leader has bigger responsibilities to handle. They work with operational and team leaders to execute plans and reach bigger goals. They create an action plan and create strategies to reach those goals. 

Responsibility of An Action Centered Leader

An action-centric leader is responsible for implementing strategies to achieve long-term and short-term goals and build individuals and teams. Their responsibility is to identify tasks, resources, and people who are apt to perform those tasks.

Achieve Goals

Achieve Goals

Leaders create an action plan to reach goals. They set deadlines and standards and allocate resources to choose the right people who fit the job. They develop strategies to achieve goals and evaluate every step in the process. 

  • Define tasks and objectives.
  • Create strategic plans to reach goals.
  • Identify the right team members to perform tasks.
  • Identify resources and processes to complete tasks.
  • Setting parameters for quality 
  • Reviewing and reporting team’s performance
  • Managing the pace of daily and weekly goals
  • Evaluating and monitoring individual and team performances

Managing Individuals

When action-centric leaders focus on personal growth and working with the team, it boosts the productivity and happiness quotient within the organization. 

Caring for and listening to motivates individuals as they develop faith that they can seek personal and professional growth through work. Leaders identify individuals’ unique traits and weaknesses and assign them relevant tasks. 

It encourages individuals in the team to develop independence. Providing constructive criticism and personal coaching helps build a better rapport among team members. 

  • Supporting the personal growth of individuals
  • Coaching and encouraging individuals to perform better
  • Delegating tasks for individuals
  • Monitoring individuals and providing constructive feedback
  • Rewarding individuals for their contributions
  • Encouraging independent thinking among individuals
  • Training individuals as per the project requirement

Creating Winning Teams

Creating Winning Team

Creating better teams requires encouraging open communication, resolving conflicts fairly, and assessing strengths and weaknesses. 

Accessing group dynamics, providing training and insights to improve team efforts, and promoting a work culture where everyone feels safe to do their best fosters a winning team.

  • Motivating the team to boost their performance
  • Providing training and coaching when necessary
  • Using various exercises for team building
  • Resolving conflicts and boosting morale within the team
  • Identifying individual and team working style
  • Encouraging and facilitating effective communication within teams

Equality and Fairness

A work culture speaks for the success or failure of the organization. The leader’s responsibility is to create a work culture that promotes equality and fairness as it builds trust and credibility. 

Creating a better work culture comes with a set of challenges. For instance, to bring people with the same values and ethics on board. Business ethics is an essential component of an organization.

An ethical leader brings about better organizational changes, promoting ethical behavior. However, numerous times leaders face ethical dilemmas when making decisions. 

The action-centric leader’s responsibility is to make ethical decisions as it positively impacts the organization’s current and future. Morals are not passed. A true leader values moral conduct and ethical behavior and encourages the same within the organization. 

John Adair’s Action-Centered Leadership Model

John Adair’s action-centric model is also known as the three-circle model. It was developed in the 60s to suit a modern work environment and deviates from older leadership theories.

As per this theory, leadership can be taught, and everyone has the potential to be a leader. The model is divided into three sections; task, team, and individual.

All these three areas require equal focus and attention to implement this model successfully.

Achieve Tasks

One of the crucial responsibilities of a leader is to complete tasks on time. It requires a clear vision, identifying the right skills, securing resources, identifying key areas of responsibility, and monitoring progress. 

Clear Vision

With a clear vision, a proper sense of direction is planned. The leader knows what time frame to set for each action plan and delegates responsibilities as per the action plan. 

It also shows the approach the team takes to complete the tasks. It helps the reach to set expectations to get the desired results. 

Identifying the Right Skill Sets

With a clear vision to set goals, knowing the knowledge and expertise required to reach those goals is essential.

Choosing team members with the right skill sets is essential to reach goals within the set deadlines. 

Defining Parameters and Deadlines

The leader must have an action plan and strategies to know when the task can be completed. It helps prevent the wastage of resources and make the right use of them. 

Resources such as tools, applications, equipment, documentation, etc., are needed to implement tasks. Parameters and deadlines are defined based on the availability of these resources.

Evaluating and Reporting Progress

Setting standards and measuring them becomes essential for an action-centric leader. Monitoring situations, individuals, and teams and reporting progress provide insights into the strengths and weaknesses of individuals and teams.

With regular monitoring and evaluation, leaders can create better strategies to reach those goals. 

Adairs Action Centered Leadership Model

Effective Use of Action-Centered Leadership Model

This model was first applied in 1973. Clarity is the key to implementing this model effectively. Communicating with clarity and effectively increases productive value. Employees’ mental, emotional, and physical states are considered to carve a plan that helps them reach deadlines. 

This model was used 50 years ago effectively and can still be used to reach short-term and long-term goals. This model also focuses on developing individuals and teams, bringing effective results. 

The core strengths of team members are built using various techniques, which makes them feel valued and brings better results. This model is effective because it includes values, beliefs, and goals that help in individual growth. 

Action Centered Leadership Pros And Cons


This model can be applied in most industries effectively as it gives you room for self-evaluation and ameliorates your leadership style that suits the project. 

Leaders evaluate individuals’ and teams’ personal and professional skills and lead them toward achieving goals. 

Adaptability is one of the essential traits of an action-centric leader, as they must be open to changing their leadership style as per the requirements. Leaders set standards and check if they are maintained throughout the organization. 

Their responsibility is to check the individual, team, as well as overall progress of the organization and resolve conflicts effectively. 

Action Centered Leadership Pros And Cons

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