Use action centered leadership to remind you that you have to continually balance the needs of the task, the team and the individual and that on occasions you will have to emphasize the needs of one over the other two.

John Adair’s action centered leadership model contains elements of both style and contingency theory. He emphasizes that a leader must constantly balance the needs of the task, the individual and the team but he recognizes that at certain times the needs of one may have to supersede the other two.

Individual needs: Include meeting the coaching, mentoring and motivation needs of staff.

Group needs: Include training, team building, motivating and maintaining discipline of the group.

Task needs: Include setting work standards, deadlines, targets and providing the resources required to do the job.

How to use action centered leadership

Where the needs of the person, team and task clash, base your decision about which area to prioritize by reference to what is best for the organization in the long term. The organization employs you to take decisions in its best interest, not those of any group or individual in the organization.

Where the need of the person conflicts with the team, base your decision on what is best for the team. This default position recognizes that when anyone joins a team they sign up to the unwritten law that they must subordinate their needs to the good of the team.

The above approaches are underpinned by the old maxim that decisions should be based on the greatest good for the greatest number of people. If you are happy with this approach it’s not a bad default position to start from.

Be aware that there will always be exceptions to the approach outlined above where the need of an individual or team rightly trumps those of the task and organization.

If your decision angers an individual or team don’t let the grievance fester. Talk to the aggrieved party and explain the reasons for your decision. They may still disagree with your decision but they will be happy that they had the opportunity to voice their anger.

Questions to ask

  1. Which set of needs do I generally prioritize?
  2. How difficult have I found it to vary my default position?
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I am a Project Management practitioner with more than 5 years experience in hardware and software implementation projects. Also a bit of a geek and a great WordPress enthusiast. I hope you enjoy the content, and I encourage you to share your knowledge with the world.

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