Team Leadership Toolkit

Leadership Styles

Adair Leadership Model

John Adair developed this simple but powerful and widely used model when he was senior lecturer in military history and adviser in leadership training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. It has since been used widely internationally in leadership development and training.

John Adair's leadership model

The Adair model describes leadership as the balancing of the three elements depicted above as overlapping circles. They are:

The Task Needs

The work that the team leader needs to carry out to ensure that the task gets done satisfactorily.  Key words are:

The Needs of the Team or Group itself

The need to develop and maintain working relationships amongst team members so that the task can be accomplished.  Key words are:

The Needs of each Individual.

Each team member also has their own needs, pressures and ideas, and is also usually a member of other groups (their family, section, profession) who also have their own needs to fulfil.  Key words are:


He emphasises the importance of distinguishing the individual from the group. There will seldom, if ever, be a perfect match between the needs of the individual, the group and the task. The leaderís job is to be aware of the tension and to manage it. The key to success lies in the leader achieving and maintaining the appropriate balance for the particular group that they are leading, and resisting the urge to focus on those areas that they personally feel most at home with.

The following assessment checklist has been used by some leaders with their groups.

TASK: Did the leader:
  • get the task done as required?
  • understand the task?
  • get all the relevant information from their Boss?
  • define the Problem?
  • make a plan of action and keep to it?
  • test ideas and solutions?
  • make the best use of resources?
GROUP: Did the leader:
  • tell them enough about the task?
  • explain why the task was necessary?
  • get agreement on what the group goals should be?
  • agree group standards? (e.g. time limits, quality)
  • summarise progress (during and at the end)?
  • criticise the group constructively?
  • praise the group appropriately?
  • maintain harmony?
  • keep the group to its purpose?
  • involve them in decision making?
  • ease tension with humour?
INDIVIDUAL: did the leader:
  • give each person an appropriate job to do?
  • explain the significance of each personís job to them?
  • check understanding?
  • check on special skills or knowledge?
  • consult, listen and acknowledge?
  • tell each person hoe they were getting on?
  • discipline where necessary?
  • set a good example?