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Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Management’s Responsibility for Leadership

In my previous post I introduced John Adair’s Action-Centered Leadership model. His Action Centered Leadership theory clearly differentiates between leadership and management.

Adair’s model has 3 main elements that we will look at now in more detail. These are Task, Team, and Individual. In its visual depiction, these three circles are interconnected. This means that all of the three elements are interdependent on each other for success. So, all of the elements need to get the right amount of attention to achieve success. We have different focus areas and responsibilities within each element for it all to come together. 

The model becomes simple to use once you realize that Adair provided a list of the things managers and leaders must do for each of the three core management elements.

Achieve the Task 

As leaders, we need to focus on a number of responsibilities to achieve the TASK. Here we will explain some of them. 

Clear Vision

We need to have a clear vision to give proper direction. This allows us to show the path we are planning to take. It will show the route the team needs to take as well as milestones along the way. We need to be able to have a clear road map to create buy-in and clarity at the start of the task. This allows members of the team to understand the expected end result.

Identify the Right Skill Sets

Leaders also need to be able to identify the right skill set needed to achieve the task. Once we know what we want to achieve, we need to be able to understand the mix of experience, skills, and knowledge we will need. This is important to ensure the task can be achieved. We will need to have the right combination within the team of individual strengths and capabilities.

Secure Resources

Also, leaders need to be able to secure the right resources for the team to complete the task. This can include finances, software, equipment, and machinery. We cannot expect the proper results without being able to supply the necessary tools and equipment to get the task done.

Areas of Responsibilities

Another responsibility we have is to ensure we have clarity about areas of responsibility. The team members need to understand their roles as well as their level of accountability. Here, we can set out a detailed plan of what everyone will be doing throughout the entire task. Also, we should be clear about any possible consequences for not achieving their part of the task as stated.

Set Standards

We also need to set the expected standards to achieve the task. We cannot have different people in the team doing the same task in different ways. These can be quality standards that everyone should follow. We can also set standards by creating visual or situational examples of these expectations. For example, we want the store set up in a particular way. We can provide visual aids that clearly define the expected layout that is required.

Report Progress

Additionally, we need to have progress reporting systems in place. This can be done through regular team meetings to review the task progression. Or we can introduce written reports that show progression against set targets.

While this element may have other components, these are some of the main ones to consider.

Build and Maintain the Team

The next element of action centered leadership looks at the team. We all understand the importance of a properly functioning team. So, we might consider the following.

Set the Tone

First, you need to set the tone for the team. You need to be able to guide them in terms of expectations and outcomes. We all want our personality and individuality to shine, however, that might hinder rather than help a team dynamic. It’s important for us to create an inclusive culture for everyone in the team to feel comfortable. We need to develop a sense of belonging within the team.

Define Roles and Responsibilities

Next, we need to define the roles and responsibilities of each member of the team. If there are sub-groups within the team, we need to be clear on the reporting structure. Also, we need to be able to give them a level of empowerment within these defined roles. That way, they will feel more committed to the task at hand.

Clear Communication

We need to be able to communicate with the team during the whole process. This is where we as leaders need to include the team in group discussions, decision-making, problem-solving, and creative thinking. We will see greater productivity from the team when their input and opinions are considered and their feedback is taken on board.

Overcome Difficulties

We need to be able to manage any difficulties that arise within the team. This can be anything from petty disagreements to open conflict. As leaders, we need to be able to keep the team harmonized and working as a unit. Conflict will happen. We need to be ready to deal with it. And of course, prevention is always better than cure, so look out for any tell-tale signs that something is not right within the team dynamic.

Be Ready to Make Adjustments

We need to be able to adjust the team set-up and roles where required. If we see something isn’t working towards the achievement of the task then changes will need to be made. We need to be ready to make those decisions and action those changes. Nobody will benefit from maintaining a status quo that is not producing results.

Develop the Individual

So, we understand the components of the task and the team. We now need to understand the element of the individual in the action centered leadership model.

Understand the Team Members

First, we need to understand the team members as individuals. We should know their strengths, limits, areas of improvement, and their unique personalities. This can help if you need to group people up for jobs within the main task. It can also help you identify where people can really shine in terms of their skills and capabilities.

Set Individual Roles Within the Team

Next, we should focus on the individual roles and responsibilities within the team. We need to create clarity and direction so each member of the team understands their position and contribution. You don’t want people doubling up on the same task unnecessarily. This is only a waste of time and can cause frustration.

Recognition to Motivate

We, as leaders, should acknowledge the contribution of the individuals within the team. This will boost morale and affect the level of motivation. It will also encourage others to perform to high standards to gain recognition for their contributions.

Finally, we need to provide feedback, support, encouragement, and correction, where necessary to the individuals in the team.

Managers and leaders have many demands on their time. You can think of Action Centered Leadership as being a compass to help you determine where and how to spend your time so you can build a high-performance team, which delivers the right things in with the right behaviors. The Action Centered Leadership model can be applied at all levels, from CEO through program managers and project managers, and on to team leaders.

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