One of the great challenges when it comes to proper leadership is balancing the various interests of those who you are required to lead. Not everyone is going to have the same goals and aspirations, even within the same business or organization. Therefore, it is the job of a good leader to reconcile all of those various interests and bring them together in a way that keeps the team working in the right direction. With good leadership, it is possible to bring everyone together in a common pursuit even if they have divergent goals among themselves.
As you are surely aware, there are a number of different leadership models available to help guide managers as they try to get the most from their teams. The model we are discussing in this article, Action Centered Leadership, is notable because it can help to deal with the problem that was outlined above - that is, how to reconcile the various goals and desires of individuals while still accomplishing the specific goals set out for the team and the project as a whole.
Action Centered Leadership is a model that was presented by John Adair back in 1973. At its simplest form, the model can be described by the three areas that it divides leadership into - Task, Team, and Individual. Each of these three elements plays an important role in the leadership picture, and only when all three are balanced properly will the leader be achieving success. Without even diving in any further, it is pretty easy to understand how each of these three aspects is important. Harmony among the three might not always be the easiest goal to reach, but it is the job of the leader to make it happen.
To grasp a better picture of the Action Centered Leadership model, let's take some time to look individually at each of the three elements.
It All Starts with a Task
Without a task, there is no reason to have a team made up of individuals, and no reason to lead them in the first place. Every leadership role is developed because there is a goal in mind, and someone needs to be in charge of directing the team toward that goal. Such a goal can be rather general, such as simply running a profitable business, while other goals will be very specific - like developing a new product to launch to market by the end of the year. No matter what the goal is, that task is what will guide the leadership that has to be provided to the team.
Speaking of the variety of tasks that are possible for a leader to work toward, one of the most important jobs of the leader is to actually define and identify the task at hand. Sometimes this will be quite easy, but other times it can actually be a serious challenge. Teams work together better when they are clear on the task at hand, so providing that definition in no uncertain terms is a major part of the equation.
Among the other important parts of the task including identifying milestones along the way that need to be met, establishing who is responsible for which part of the task, and what will be defined as success in the end. Monitoring progress and making sure that the group is getting closer and closer to accomplishing the task falls on the leader, and is an important part of the Action Centered Leadership model.
Teamwork is Essential
Leading the team is what most people think of traditionally as being 'leadership'. Any given team is made up of individuals with various skills and experiences, so it is up to the leader to extract the best possible performance from each of them. The way the team works together should be defined by the leader, such as communication standards and methods for resolving conflict. Whenever two or more people are working together on a task there is bound to be conflict along the way - the best leaders are able to moderate those conflicts and resolve them quickly.
Encouragement is another important part of the Action Centered Leadership plan, especially for long projects. The members of the team need to remain focused on the 'prize' at the end of the task so they can remain motivated and determined to reach a successful conclusion to the project. Making sure that the team as a whole feels invested in the success of the group is something that a good leader will be able to accomplish.
Don't Forget About the Individuals
Forgetting about individuals within the team is probably the most common leadership mistake that is made by managers in all areas of business. It is tempting to just treat each individual as a robot who is programmed to only do what is best for the organization - but real life is just not that simple. Individual people have varying desires, fears, experiences, motivations, etc. Extracting the best from each person on the team means treating them as the individual that they are. Offering rewards or praise for a strong contribution to the team is a common tact for getting the best possible performance from members of the team. Only when the leader is able to place each person in the role that is best suited for their skills and interests will the team be able to function as successfully as possible.
Action Centered Leadership is a popular leadership model to follow in large part because of the simplicity that it offers. Just by understanding the basics of the three areas of leadership provided in this model - Task, Team, and Individual - a leader will be well on the way to a successful project. Each of these three areas is vitally important, and it will be difficult to succeed in one area without support from the other. Bringing all three together properly isn't always going to be easy, but it is a goal that each leader in an organization should strive to achieve.
You may also be interested in:
Action Centered Leadership | Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid | Dunham and Pierce's Leadership Process Model | Fiedler's Contingency Model | French and Raven's Five Forms of Power | Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory | Tannenbaum-Schmidt Leadership Continuum | Lewin's Leadership Styles Framework | Path-Goal Theory | Zenger and Folkman's 10 Fatal Leadership Flaws .