Leadership Essay Sample

Category: Leadership
Last Updated: 13 May 2021
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Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. This definition is similar to Northouse's (2007, p3) definition “Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal”. Also many of the authors defined the term leadership according to Alan Keith of Genentech stated that, "Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen”.

These leaderships are one of the most important factors for any organization’s development and its progress. In this essay defines how a particular model of leadership affects an organization. There are many models like

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  • Action Centred Leadership
  • Fielders Contingency model
  • Path goal model Let we will discuss about the first two models and how they are contributing affect in the organization.

Action Centred Leadership

This model proposed by John Adair (1973) argued that it is not who you are but what you do which establishes you as a leader. A leader needs to balance the needs of the task, the team and the individual, shown clearly in the diagram below in his 3 circle model. The effective leader carries out the functions and demonstrates the behaviours appropriate to the circles, varying the level according to the needs of the situation. The leader whilst balancing the three circles, sits in his/her helicopter above the process, ensuring the best possible overview of what is happening. Good managers and leaders should have full command of the three main areas of the Action Centred Leadership model, and should be able to use each of the elements according to the situation.

Being able to do all of these things, and keep the right balance, gets results, builds morale, improves quality, develops teams and productivity, and is the mark of a successful manager and leader.

Action Centred Leadership by John Adair

  • Leaders Behaviour under Task
  • Providing clear Objectives
  • Providing appropriate procedures
  • Ensuring there is evidence of progress
  • Ensuring avoidance of digression
  • Ensuring deadlines are met

To grow Adair used the original word meanings to emphasise this: Leadership is an ancient ability about deciding direction, from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning the road or path ahead; knowing the next step and then taking others with you to it. Managing is a later concept, from Latin 'manus', meaning hand, and more associated with handling a system or machine of some kind. The original concept of managing began in the 19th century when engineers and accountants started to become entrepreneurs.

There are valuable elements of management not necessarily found in leadership, eg administration and managing resources. Leadership on the other hand contains elements not necessarily found in management, e. g. , inspiring others through the leader's own enthusiasm and commitment. The Action Centred Leadership model is Adair's best known work, in which the three elements - Achieving the Task, Developing the Team and Developing Individuals - are mutually dependent, as well as being separately essential to the overall leadership role.

Importantly as well, Adair set out these core functions of leadership and says they are vital to the Action Centred Leadership model:

  • Planning - seeking information, defining tasks, setting aims Initiating - briefing, task allocation, setting standards
  • Controlling - maintaining standards, ensuring progress, ongoing decision-making
  • Supporting - individuals' contributions, encouraging, team spirit, reconciling, morale
  • Informing - clarifying tasks and plans, updating, receiving feedback and interpreting Evaluating - feasibility of ideas, performance, enabling self-assessment

The Action Centred Leadership model therefore does not stand alone; it must be part of an integrated approach to managing and leading, and also which should include a strong emphasis on applying these principles through training. Adair also promotes a '50:50 rule' which he applies to various situations involving two possible influencers, e. g. the view that 50% of motivation lies with the individual and 50% comes from external factors, among them leadership from another.

This contradicts most of the motivation gurus who assert that most motivation is from within the individual. He also suggests that 50% of team building success comes from the team and 50% from the leader. In Perspective It is perhaps unsurprising that there has been something of a backlash against Adair's thinking, given the pace and scale of changes in the work environment during the last twenty years Adair's ideas were very new when they first appeared, and for many people their main value lay in the successful challenge they offered to the then-dominant Great Man theories.

These theories, because they insisted that leaders were born and not made, completely undermined the possibility of training or developing people in leadership skills. Since Adair's views have been successfully established, however, he has become more of a target, with critics claiming that his approach (developed in the 1960s) has now itself become outdated. One major criticism of Action-Centred Leadership is that it takes little account of the flat structures that are now generally advocated as the best organisational form.

Action-Centred Leadership is also criticised for being too 'authoritarian', applicable in a rigid, formal, military-type environment, but less relevant to the modern workplace, where the leadership emphasis is on leading change, empowering, enabling, managing knowledge and fostering innovation. Other criticisms leveled at Adair's approach in recent years include the view that his approaches are too simple, are not academically rigorous and lack real substance in that he is merely stating the obvious, common sense view.

For many others, however, it is exactly this practical simplicity and clarity about what a leader should do that is so valuable and timeless. For this reason many organizations and business schools worldwide continue teaching the Adair approach to developing leadership.

Fielders Contingency Model

This model is proposed by the Austrian psychologist Fred Edward Fiedler (1922- ). The contingency model emphasizes the importance of both the leader's personality and the situation in which that leader operates.

A leader is the individual who is given the task of directing and coordinating task-relevant activities, or the one who carries the responsibility for performing these functions when there is no appointed leader. Fiedler relates the effectiveness of the leader to aspects of the group situation. Fred Fiedler's Contingency Model also predicts that the effectiveness of the leader will depend on both the characteristics of the leader and the favourableness of the situation.  Leader-member relations (LMR). Task structure (TS). Position power (PP) .

The nature of the interpersonal relationship between leader and follower, expressed in terms of good through poor, with qualifying modifiers attached as necessary. It is obvious that the leader’s personality and the personalities of subordinates play important roles in this variable. Task structure: The nature of the subordinate’s task, described as structured or unstructured, associated with the amount of creative freedom allowed the subordinate to accomplish the task, and how the task is defined. The degree to which the position itself enables the leader to get the group members to comply with and accept his or her direction and leadership.

Situational Favourableness

According to Fiedler, there is no ideal leader. Both low-LPC (task-oriented) and high-LPC (relationship-oriented) leaders can be effective if their leadership orientation fits the situation. The contingency theory allows for predicting the characteristics of the appropriate situations for effectiveness. Three situational components determine the favourableness of situational control:  Leader-Member Relations, referring to the degree of mutual trust, respect and confidence between the leader and the subordinates.  Task Structure, referring to the extent to which group tasks are clear and structured.  Leader Position Power, referring to the power inherent in the leader’s position itself. When there is a good leader-member relation, a highly structured task, and high leader position power, the situation is considered a "favorable situation. Fiedler found that low-LPC leaders are more effective in extremely favourable or unfavourable situations, whereas high-LPC leaders perform best in situations with intermediate favourability.


Adair firmly believed that leadership can be taught and that a person can become a successful leader through effectively applying the action centred leadership model. This opinion was a departure from the other theories prevailing at the time (1960s) which stated that people are born with leadership characteristics and therefore leadership cannot be taught.

Nowadays Adair’s theory is either criticised for being “too simple” and branded as outdated, or welcomed by those who feel that it’s simplicity and practicality render it timeless. Also according to Fielder personality is relatively stable, the contingency model suggests that improving effectiveness requires changing the situation to fit the leader. This is called "job engineering. " The organization or the leader may ncrease or decrease task structure and position power, also training and group development may improve leader-member relations.


  1. Kouzes, J. , and Posner, B. (2007). The Leadership Challenge. CA: Jossey Bass.
  2. http://www. thefreelibrary. com/John+Adair:+Action-Centred+Leadership. -a0151189052
  3. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Fiedler_contingency_model
  4. Armstrong. M Management Processes and Functions, 1996, London CIPD ISBN 0-85292-438-0
  5. Ashour, A. S. 1973) ‘The Contingency Model of Leadership Effectiveness: An Evaluation’, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 9(3): 339–55.
  6. Fiedler, F. E. (1967) A Theory of Leadership Effectiveness, New York: McGraw-Hill.
  7. Fiedler, F. E. (1997) Directory of the American Psychological Association, Chicago: St James Press, 419
  8. http://www. learnmanagement2. com/adair. htm
  9. http://www. teambuildingsolutions. co. uk/Default. aspx? pagename=John-Adairs-Action- Centred-Leadership

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Leadership Essay Sample. (2018, Feb 20). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/leadership-4/

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