Action-centered Leadership

Table of Contents

What is Action-centered Leadership?

Action-centered leadership is a leadership model that focuses on three key elements: task accomplishment, team maintenance, and individual needs. It suggests that a leader must balance the needs and goals of the task at hand with the needs and well-being of the team and individuals within the team in order to be effective. The leader must be able to identify and address issues and conflicts that arise in these three areas in order to lead the team effectively.

Action-centered leadership is a model that recognizes that effective leadership requires a balance of three key elements:

  1. Task accomplishment:

    Task accomplishment is one of the three key elements of action-centered leadership and refers to the leader’s ability to set goals and objectives, develop plans and strategies, and ensure that the team is working efficiently and effectively to complete the task at hand.

    • Setting goals and objectives: A leader must be able to identify and communicate clear and achievable goals and objectives for the team. This includes setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. This will help the team understand what they are working towards and what is expected of them.
    • Developing plans and strategies: Once the goals and objectives have been set, the leader must develop a plan and strategy to achieve them. This includes identifying the resources and support that the team will need, as well as the steps that need to be taken to reach the goal.
    • Ensuring efficient and effective work: The leader must monitor the team’s progress and ensure that they are working efficiently and effectively. This includes identifying and addressing any obstacles or challenges that the team may be facing and making adjustments as needed. The leader should also provide feedback and recognition for a job well done.
    • Delegation: A leader is also responsible for delegating tasks and responsibilities to team members according to their skills and abilities to complete the task efficiently.

    Task accomplishment is important as it ensures that the team is working towards a common goal and that they are making progress towards achieving it. By setting clear goals and objectives, developing plans and strategies, and monitoring the team’s progress, the leader can ensure that the team is working efficiently and effectively to complete the task at hand.

  2. Team maintenance:

    Team maintenance refers to the leader’s ability to build a positive team culture, motivate and inspire team members, and manage conflicts and issues within the team.

    • Building a positive team culture: A leader must create an environment that encourages teamwork and collaboration. This includes fostering trust and open communication among team members, promoting a sense of shared purpose and shared vision, and encouraging participation and engagement.
    • Motivating and inspiring team members: A leader must inspire and motivate team members to work towards the team’s goals. This includes recognizing and rewarding hard work and success, providing feedback and coaching, and creating opportunities for professional development.
    • Managing conflicts and issues within the team: A leader must be able to identify and address conflicts and issues that arise within the team. This includes mediating disputes, providing support and guidance, and taking appropriate action when necessary.
    • Building team cohesion: A leader must foster a sense of unity and togetherness among team members. This includes building trust, promoting collaboration, and creating a positive team identity.

    Team maintenance is important as it ensures that the team is working together effectively, and that team members are motivated and engaged in their work. A positive team culture can improve communication, increase productivity and build better relationships among team members. By building a positive team culture, motivating and inspiring team members, and managing conflicts and issues, the leader can ensure that the team is working together effectively to achieve the task at hand.

  3. Individual needs:

    Individual needs is vital component of action-centered leadership and refers to the leader’s ability to recognize and address the unique needs and concerns of individual team members, including their personal and professional development.

    • Recognizing individual needs: A leader must be able to identify and understand the unique needs and concerns of each team member. This includes understanding their strengths and weaknesses, their personal and professional goals, and any challenges they may be facing.
    • Providing support and guidance: A leader must provide support and guidance to team members as needed. This includes providing feedback and coaching, connecting team members with resources, and helping them to develop their skills and abilities.
    • Facilitating professional development: A leader must provide opportunities for team members to develop their professional skills and abilities. This includes providing training and mentoring, and creating opportunities for team members to take on new responsibilities and leadership roles.
    • Encouraging work-life balance: A leader must be aware of individual team member’s work-life balance, and encourage them to maintain a healthy balance between their work and personal life.

    Individual needs are important as they ensure that team members feel valued and supported, and that they have opportunities to grow and develop both personally and professionally. By recognizing individual needs, providing support and guidance, facilitating professional development, and encouraging work-life balance, the leader can ensure that team members are motivated, engaged and committed to the team’s mission.


The Action-centered leader must be able to balance these three elements and make decisions that are in the best interest of the overall team and its mission. They must also be able to adapt their leadership style to the changing needs of the team and the task at hand.

The Action-centered leadership model was developed by John Adair in the 1970s and it is widely used in military, business, and government organizations. It’s a holistic approach to leadership, as it considers all three aspects of leadership, task, team, and individual as important and interconnected.

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