A Complete Guide On Functional Leadership And Its Models

Written By Assma Riaz

Are you struggling to understand what is functional leadership? No more worries.

This is the simplest article with easy to understand theories of functional leadership.

Functional leadership along with its theories has become a topic of concern for past years. 

Functional leadership is actually a model developed to define leadership. You must be thinking about why there is a need for a model to define leadership?

The model exists because it directs what leaders should do.

Researchers are highlighting the factors that distinguish a leader from others.

Functional Leadership – A Study Of Models

It describes the functions and conditions in which leaders must take the responsibility. 

Functional Leadership - A Study Of Models
Functional Leadership – A Study Of Models

Different functional leadership models exist.  So these are the Action Centered Leadership model and the five other leadership theories.

Extended research gave birth to a number of theories which are then categorized. The categories were according to the perspective of the study.

Some of these theories are:

– Trait theories

Contingency theories

– Behavioral theories

– Transactional theories

Transformational theories

– The great man theory

– Functional theories

By studying the behaviors and actions of successful leaders, these theories got developed.

The researchers analyzed the results of theories and correlated them. The results showed what the leader does in advance of success.

As discussed before, there are two models of functional leadership.

1. Action Centered Leadership Model:

This model is the most famous and strong.

Presented by John Adairs, this model is made up of three intersecting circles. Every circle shows a different aspect of the leadership function.

A. Task:

The given task must get completed by the whole group. Rather than a single person striving to complete it.

B. Team:

Teams can achieve excellent results. It can happen only when the team is enough developed.

C. Individual:

Individuals are those looking for an encouraging task to perform.

Action Centered Leadership Model
Action Centered Leadership Model

The model checks how the requirements mentioned above get provided. In many organizations, managers provide for the needs of the employees.

But in some of the organizations, individuals themselves develop as a leader. Though these individuals do not have a fixed position in the organization.

See also: 12 Major Functions Of Leadership – Detailed Overview

2. Exemplary Leadership Model:

Exemplary model got introduced in a book called “The Leadership Challenge.” James Kouzes and Barry Posner wrote this book.

This model is a remarkable vision of the model known as functional leadership. This model is more detailed as compared to the previous one.

The model got written for leaders of higher authority such as Cheif Executive Officers.

There are five practices in this model. These practices make leadership a bundle of understandable behaviors and methods.

According to research, the five models of exemplary leadership are still effective.

A. Challenging The Status Quo:

The first step is to challenge the process. It means the leaders have to find out the ways for changing the status quo.

The purpose is to make organizations more efficient and effective. Leaders do this task by searching for innovative ways, doing experiments, and facing risks.

Challenging The Process In Exemplary Model
Challenging The Process In Exemplary Leadership

Obstacles coming in the way are often taken as learning chances.

Changing traditions is not easy. So developing an environment where it’s easier to change the status quo is difficult.

B. Be Clear In His Vision:

A leader has to believe that he can show the difference. A capable leader is the one who has a naked picture of the future.

This picture highlights the ideal vision of the future.

Leaders use their magic of silent persuasion and magnetic pull. They do this to attract the other people of the organization to join this development.

When the opportunities and the outline of the future get clear.

Then this persuasion doesn’t need an explicit statement. This realization helps to convince people to join this cause.

C. Encourage Others To Work Efficiently:

Good leaders are those who build effective cooperation and energetic teams.

Everybody in the organization shows active involvement in tasks and respects each other.

They work together for creating a relaxed, confidential, and productive environment.

This allows employees to be responsible for the organization and one another.

As they develop a feeling of potential and power. It builds self-confidence in the team.

D. Be An Example For Others:

Leaders do concern about how everyone gets treated in the organization. Also, how the objectives of the organization get pursued.

In other words, the leader sets standards for others and be an example for other people to follow.

Leaders also set this example of facing the change. They show people how to deal with the change by doing itself.

Modeling The Way In Exemplary Model
Modeling The Way In Exemplary Leadership

For broader-scale changes, they set smaller objectives. They do this because achieving these results must feel like a win.

Effective leaders develop flexible and internal solutions for all the problems they found.

When employees are unsure about what should they do. It’s the leader who guides them about the path.

E. Take Participation Of Others:

As a leader, if you want to do great things for the organization, hard work is the rule.

If the leader wants to make sure that everything is on track. And employees maintain aim and determination through all the processes.

Then the leader must look out for the participation of employees. And then give them the required appreciation.

So, it’s the team who share their rewards. It includes recognizing performances.

Functional Leadership Theory – Complete Overview:

Functional leadership theory identifies specific behaviors that leaders show. And this behavior plays a role in the efficacy of the organization.

So the behaviors play their role either as a whole or a part of the organization.

The key point of the theory says that the leader has many important tasks to do.

But the most important one is to ensure that every need of the group gets fulfilled.

Functional Leadership Theory - Complete Overview
Functional Leadership Theory – Complete Overview

It means that a leader is successful when he contributes to the group cohesion.

This theory has a very strong connection with the model. This theory suggests that leadership doesn’t belong to one person.

The model says that leadership bases on a series of behaviors by the group. This sequence handles achieving things and fulfilling tasks.

Every person belonging to an organization has this tendency to behave in a certain way. And he can perform different actions.

So according to this, every person should be able to take on a leading role.

Yet, in practice, people own different kinds of qualities. So does the leadership need a specific set of characteristics?


Leadership is a topic of discussion for decades. There are too many researches and work done on leadership.

These studies define the exact qualities a leader should own. And which kind of strategies leaders need to go along with.

Functional leadership shows how a leader carries out activities. And which activities are important to be fruitful.

The other model also practically depicts functional leadership. So the five models show how functional leadership works.

Have you understood the explanation of this model? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of such models?

Which leadership theory triggers interest in you? Do you think the action centered leadership model is better or the exemplary model?

Drop comments in the section below to share your thoughts with us.

Last Updated on 3 years by Shahzaib Arshad

Assma Riaz

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