Leader Juggler

Did you realise that as a leader you will become a juggler?

Leadership and Management models exist to help us to make sense of what is going on. The trouble starts when we try to match our everyday experience with the “ideal” of a model. And your real learning starts as you find that no two situations are the same and you are responsible for many tasks and groups of people.

So, what Leadership model could help? John Adair’s model of Action Centred Leadership is still valid today. A well loved favourite to help the leader, it explains what is happening and how to act. The original crisp three-sphere diagram will help you to start. Then multiple tasks turn you into a juggler as you try to keep all the balls in the air. And, of course, these are becoming heavier and of different sizes!

Life as a leader is indeed complex

Your overriding concern, however, is to translate your organisation’s strategy and direction into action and generate performance through people.

Of course you aren’t alone in this. There will be other people with responsibilities in specialist areas and some of what they do with overlap with you. Indeed it is quite likely that the people in your team/s will have a stake in other teams. Ah, another ball to juggle, this one is about compromise, negotiation as you become part of the executive team.

But let’s get back to Adair’s interconnecting spheres

This model is a good place to start and will serve you well. Of course the diagram is short hand for more detailed explanation and I would recommend that you spend some time getting to grips with Adair’s reasoning.

Leadership Model
Adair three centred leadership model

Adair bases the Leader’s role as balancing the needs of the three elements: Task, Individual and Team. These overlap but concentrating on one aspect will mean having to play catch-up with the others. Life isn’t always neat.

Once you are fully clear on the task, you will then supply its needs. So create your plan, identify and arrange sufficient resources, (human and material). Defining its quality and standards you will include a risk assessment, assess financial needs and identify the skills needed to carry it out.

Where the spheres overlap, the elements work together from a leader’s point of view. As leader in the centre, you will inspire and manage each sector’s needs to achieve your results.

New Leader, New Team

If you don’t already have a team, you will be selecting people with the right attributes. However, it is quite likely that you will be working with people who are already available to you, perhaps an established departmental team. In either case, you will need to assess ability and skills and continually develop them.

Don’t underestimate the level of emotional development that you will encourage. You will be using your own influential skills to motivate individuals and bring them together to form your team. This people relationship has emotional roots as you inspire, coach and support each person and build synergy in the team.

Ensuring effective communication at all levels. includes the personal goals of your individuals in your evaluation of the task. You will all have gained valuable experience, especially you as a leader. Assess what went well, what would you do differently next time?  You should recognise both individual contribution and team work of a job well done. When you reward individuals, ensure against being divisive.

You will gain a working knowledge of people’s skills and behaviours, and skills. This gives you a head-start for future projects, ready to catch the next ball that is thrown at you.

Suggested reading

A prolific business writer, Adair has produced many helpful books. If you are a new leader, try this one:



(please note that I only recommend items that I have confidence in. If you choose to use this link to make your purchase, I may receive a small commission from the vendor. However, this does not incur any extra expense for you)

5 Great Business Books Offering Insight for Success

Here are some great business books for you to read: enlightening, entertaining and thought provoking!  Interestingly, some people tell me that they don’t have time to read books.  Really, they just don’t see the value in spending the time.

Well, I recommend you to try these and then think if the time has been well spent.  I bet you will come away with some great insight and hopefully you will implement at least some of the suggested behaviours and actions that will make a difference.  Try them!

TIP (By the way you don’t have to read every word on every page.  If you are short of time, try reading the list of chapters then the first and last sections of each chapter and you will already have gained some knowledge of the subject.  Clearly, you will need to go back and read more fully those sections that are of particular interest to you.  It is surprisingly effective).

TIP (Many of these books are available on Kindle and you may be able to read them at a much reduced cost e.g. if the edition is available on Kindle Unlimited)

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Tools of the Titan: Timothy Ferriss

Tim writes about performance and change in a  “dip in and dip out” sort of style.

“You don’t succeed because you have no weaknesses, you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing bits around them”.  I absolutely agree with this quote.

His interviews with other people and insights offer motivational and sometimes problem solving focus on self-improvement.  A fascinating book that you will want to return to.

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The Undoing Project: Michael Lewis

So you think decision-making is about systems and logic? Well maybe and maybe not.  Michael Lewis looks at this concept through the story of two psychologists whose work discovered behavioural economics.  Their touching friendship takes you through concepts in understanding this fascinating area.

Be prepared to be both entertained and enlightened.  This story will stay with you.

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The Coaching Habit: Michael Bungay

Most managers understand the value of coaching their employees for performance but it isn’t always something that comes naturally.  This book describes an approach to coaching that is simple but effective, a method that becomes second nature at work and indeed in everyday life.  The author’s insight enables you to manage and support your employees, creating useful habits that create impact. Curb the temptation to offer advice when active listening is the correct course.

Thought provoking and clear, this book offers transferable skills for every manager.

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The One Thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results: Gary Keller

Some title to live up to, this book is the antidote to the ever increasing pressures of everyday life.  Our preoccupation with “busy-ness” actually leads to less productivity, stress and the feeling of being left behind.

The One Thing offers an alternative way to achieve success in all areas of life, not just work.  More productivity, better lifestyle, more family time: sounds too good to be true?  Well read this book and decide for yourself.  I would be surprised if you don’t find it helpful.

“What’s the ONE thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”

Find out how to focus on what you should do.  Focus on this thing well instead of eternal plate spinning!

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The Chimp Paradox

This has been a really popular book and although some of the concepts are not new, it is well written.  This is a fascinating read about how our minds are shaped, how our emotions and negative self-talk act against our best interests.  See if you can identify with this.

A self-help book that is easy to understand, it explains how you can see when your “chimp” is controlling you and when to use your “human brain” to push back.

This book is very helpful for introspection. It is a great help in understanding our interactions with other people, recognising when our emotions become out of control and how to take steps to change.

© copyright: Christine de Caux 2018


I have given links to Amazon UK where these titles are readily available in several formats. They can be purchased from other outlets of course.  

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