Adair’s Leadership Functions

” Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. ”  – Warren Bennis.

The various components of John Adair’s leadership model support each other very well.  He believed that the three elements of Action-Centred Leadership were facilitated by the eight actions below, which he deemed to be Leadership Functions.  This entire structure leads to organizational success.


1.   Planning:

Leaders must engage in thorough planning and preparation beforehand.  This includes contingency planning, and attention must be given to timescales.

2.  Defining the task: 

The leader does this by sharing his vision with the team and setting SMART goals and objectives for everyone.  SMART means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-related.

3.  Briefing:

Regular team briefings by the leader keep the team and individuals on track, enhance purpose, teamwork and motivation.  They conduce to successful task completion.

4.  Controlling:  

The leader must create good monitoring and control structures to ensure good results.  This speaks to the maintenance of high performance standards.  Leaders must also exhibit self-control and do everything in their power to extract maximum results from minimum resources.

5.  Evaluating:  

The leader has to evaluate team and individual performance at every stage of the process.  He or she must make mid-course corrections to the process, and provide mentoring and training where necessary.

6:  Motivating:

John Adair said a lot about motivation.  He lists eight rules for motivating people in his book Effective Motivation ( Guildford: Talbot Adair Press, 1987 ).  We will look at these rules in another post.

7.  Setting an example:

Good leaders always lead by example.  This speaks to credibility and trust.

8.  Organizing:

Effective leaders always organize themselves, their teams and individuals in a manner designed to achieve the task.  Time management and appropriate delegation feature prominently here.

John Adair’s leadership model, complemented by his list of Leadership Functions, is a simple and very effective leadership tool which is still widely used today in all sorts of organizations, including commercial enterprises and public educational institutions.  It has proved its effectiveness.



One thought on “Adair’s Leadership Functions

  1. Pingback: Motivating People – John Adair | eduflow

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