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Confused about leadership? Use this model...



As a teenager at the Australian Defence Force Academy, I was taught a very simple leadership model which is very useful in helping us balance our focus through a particular task or project.


During our second year at the academy, we were assessed on our use of this model on ‘Exercise Cryptic Challenge’; a physically and mentally demanding three days of assessed leadership activities. Nothing quite like military training…everything is bloody heavy, nothing ever has enough wheels, and there seems to be hills wherever you go!


'John Adair's Action Centered Leadership Model'

John Adair developed this model whilst instructing at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy in the 1960's, and it has been used in commonwealth military leadership training ever since.


The three elements in the model show areas requiring our attention as leaders. We will usually find that we naturally want to dwell in one particular area, but we need to be disciplined in balancing our focus across all three.


A very brief introduction to the elements of the model:


The TASK element contains functions specific to the mechanics of getting the job done:

  • Have we defined our task and allocated resources for it?

  • What is our objective?

  • What are our key deliverables?

  • Do we have a valid plan for execution?

  • Have we identified key milestones to stop, step back and review our progress


The TEAM element is all about the relationships between the leader and the group, and within group members.

  • Is there friction between team members which needs to be dealt with?

  • Have I build a safe environment where everyone is speaking up, offering input and critique?

  • What are my communication protocols? Are they effective?

  • Am I viewing errors as a natural part of innovation and learning?

The INDIVIDUAL element is when we focus on getting to know our team personally. A good question to keep coming back to is ‘what is in it for them?’. As leader, it is our job to make the ‘what’s in it for them’ clear and powerful; this results in intrinsic motivation.

  • What are the individuals strengths and weaknesses?

  • Am I being empathetic…do I REALLY know what is going on in his/her life?

  • Am I encouraging and rewarding positive behaviours (vs only positive outcomes)?

  • What really matters to him/her?

As leaders, quite often we can find ourselves confused, flustered and basically so busy we don’t know what to prioritise; this model is a great anchor point and is used in military officer training all over the globe.


Happy Friday!



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