Action Wheel Leadership

The Action Wheel


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The Action Wheel Leadership Model was developed by Dr. Robert Terry and has been used for more than 30 years in organizations worldwide. 

Contact Us: There is no charge for a customized proposal for your group's leadership team.  

Authentic Action Wheel

The Action Wheel is an issue and action-framing tool. It was created to provide the answers to two core leadership questions:

  • What is really, really going on?
  • What are we going to do about it?

The ability to frame an issue correctly is essential to leadership. As we correctly frame issues, so too will we solve them. Without a reflective answer, action is misdirected, misunderstood and mismanaged. Unless we know what is really going on, we misconstrue the issues and act with unanticipated, even dire, consequences.

The theory and use of the Action Wheel Leadership model are found in Authentic Leadership: Courage In Action ~by Dr. Robert Terry

The Premise of the Action Wheel:

  • All human action is structured the same—every act, in every situation.
  • In other words, the generic features of action are related to each other in a particular and universal form.

All six aspects of the model are implicitly present in every human action.

Therefore all features of action must eventually be addressed in any proposed action.

What is critical is the location of our attention and the direction of our engagement at the outset of the leadership task.

The health, or lack of health, of an entire organization can be diagnosed with the Action Wheel Assessment.

The Six Components of Every Human Action Are:

  • Meaning
  • Mission
  • Power
  • Existence
  • Structure
  • Resources

90% of all leadership solutions begin "above the line" in Meaning, Mission, and Power.  90% of leadership’s time is typically spent "below the line" in Existence, Resources and Structure.

The six dimensions of the Action Wheel are further clarified by the Leadership Metaphors that help define them.

Outcomes of Using the Action Wheel:

  • Frame and define what is really, really going on
  • Create a common language
  • Identify and focus attention
  • Avoid misinterpreting reality
  • Focus energy toward authentic action and long-term solutions
  • Align people, systems and strategy
  • Engage people and systems
  • Identify ethical challenges, dilemmas and solutions

The completed act, action or fulfillment, is the ultimate goal and outcome. It is achieved when all six features of the Authentic Action Wheel are addressed.

Fulfillment is the completed action that embraces existence, resources, structure, power, mission and meaning. Anything you are considering, trying to understand, create, or adopt can be put in the center of the wheel in place of the word "Fulfillment."

Our signature Leadership Assessment Tools can be your starting point.

We have learned that: All human action is structured the same—every act, in every situation. In other words, the generic features of action are related to each other in a particular and universal form.

We know that: All aspects of the model are implicitly present in every act. Therefore all features of action must eventually be addressed in any proposed action.

Using the Action Wheel, we can dissect leadership action into six component parts. If any of the six elements are ignored, your team and your organization will experience fragmentation and mis-alignment.

  • Meaning: Guiding values, principles and ethics
  • Mission: Goals, objectives and desires
  • Power: Energy, motivation, morale, control
  • Structure: Systems, policies and procedures
  • Resources: People, capitol, info, equip, time
  • Existence: History and identity, both limits and launches the organization

Action Wheel based leadership assessments and leadership programs will help you and your team move from misalignment and confusion toward enthusiasm and unity. What is critical is the location of our attention and the direction of our engagement at the outset of the leadership task.

"Over the years, I have found that most issues center on meaning, mission and power, but that our leadership slides too quickly toward structure, resources and existence. We reorganize (structure), throw money at the problem (resources), or pray for a miracle (existence)!" ~Bob Terry

What is the definition of authenticity?

Here is Bob Terry's answer: "Authenticity is knowing, and acting on, what is true and real inside yourself, your team and your organization AND knowing and acting on what is true and real in the world. It is not enough to walk one’s talk if one is headed off, or leading one’s organization, community or nation, off a cliff! ~ Bob Terry

Bob Terry's
Original Version of the Action Wheel

Action Wheel Model

Leadership is a relationship between leader and led that presses to know what is really going on, to act courageously on that understanding, and to live authentically.  ~ Bob Terry

Action Wheel Community

You are part of the Action Wheel Community if you have ever learned about the Action Wheel, participated in one of our workshops or leadership courses, or visited our website. As part of this community, you will able to read about experiences others have had with the Action Wheel and share your own experiences as well.

Do you have a story, memory, or question about using the Action Wheel in your professional or personal life? Please share it.

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