I continue to be inspired by John Adair and his Action Centred Leadership theory. Although I am a facilitator and teach ACL frequently, I find it incredibly inspiring because the theory and model is so simple. At first I thought it was too simple, but as I heard John say in March, the model is simple but never simplistic. What I have learned is that simple means easy to understand and most of all easy to implement.
Being rather practically-minded, I like to test theories in real life to see just how good they are. ACL is represented by 3 Circles – Task, Team & Individual – and John suggests that the model represents the common needs that are present in all groups. The trick for the leader is to be aware that these needs could be present at anytime, in varying degrees, and must know how to meet them, as best he or she can, within the constraints of their organisation. I chair a local businesswomen’s network and when I first became its leader, it was quite tough. No-one knew me, the group was past its heyday so membership numbers were falling and the group was made of up very different personalities, some stronger than others. I was also replacing a very popular Chairwoman, so the jury was out!
With my eye on the 3 Circles, I realised that needs associated with all the circles were present in this group. Within the task circle there was a need for me to create my vision of how I wanted the group to develop and for us to have some sort of direction. I also needed to communicate that out to the group and to engage their support. But I could sense that the team & individual needs were more pressing. I knew I had to get to know these ladies, one by one, if I was to re-unite them as a team, behind me as their leader, bearing in mind we meet only once a month and all run our own businesses. Our only commonality is the network group.
Some ladies were quite unhappy about certain aspects of the group and asked to speak with me. I met with everyone who asked and listened to all their advice and their dissatisfaction. I took on board some points and let others quietly fade. But by listening and acknowledging the greater experience of those ladies, the bonds grew stronger. I decided we needed a stronger group identity to meet the needs of the team circle, so we developed a new website, encouraging our members to profile their businesses. I also ran marketing sessions, asking everyone to contribute about our group and what we stood for. The total inclusion and involvement of our members brought us closer together as a team and the needs of that circle began to be fulfilled. Some 18 months later, our group has grown from 6 to 30 members and I’m proud to say we are a thriving group again. I continue to keep an eye on the 3 Circles and ensure that all our members are treated with respect and treated as individuals. Any voluntary contributions are always acknowledged.
I’m not sure if this is what you are looking for but I found the practice of John’s model invaluable to my leadership of this group and it worked!