Action Wheel Leadership

Leadership Theories &
The Action Wheel


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The Action Wheel is a comprehensive leadership system that enfolds other leadership theories and shows where they fit within an overall leadership theory dynamic. This leadership model was developed by Dr. Robert Terry in his book Authentic Leadership: Courage In Action

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Leadership Theories Action Wheel

Action Wheel Dimension - Existence: Existence is the ground and the setting of action. It is the from which of action, and it both limits and makes possible any action.

Resources are one product of existence, but existence is also the ecological and historical setting of action. Without existence, an action is disconnected from its particularity, or uniqueness, and from its past. Existence is the aspect of action that personal leadership theorists attend to.

Action Wheel Dimension - Resources: Anything that is useful, measurable and needed to accomplish the mission meets the criteria for a resource.

Resources are the with which of action, and without them action languishes.

Team leadership theorists are focused on the resource feature of action.

Action Wheel Dimension - Structure: Structure is the through which of action—the plans, institutional arrangement, maps, forms and processes that order and funnel the power toward mission accomplishment. Without structure, energized mission has nowhere to go. Positional/functional theorists focus on structural concerns.

Action Wheel Dimension - Power: Power is the actual expenditure of energy. In contrast, a potential for energy is a resource, just as, in the material realm, coal in the ground is a resource, coal when it is burned is power. Power is the decision, commitment, passion and volition that energizes mission. It can be intense or relaxed, strong or weak, wild or calm. Power is the by which of human action. Mission apart from power languishes as an unfulfilled expectation. Power is the primary concern of the political leadership theorists.

Action Wheel Dimension - Mission: Any aspect of an action that refers to its direction—its toward which—constitutes mission. All terms as purpose, expectation, aim, vision, goal, intention, objective and desire point toward an action‘s mission. Although many authors distinguish between these terms, at the generic level, all the terms indicate the toward which of action. Mission is the primary concern of the visionary leadership theorists.

Action Wheel Dimension - Meaning: Meaning is the why of action—that for which we act. The particular values, reasons and rationalizations that justify a particular action constitute its meaning. However, any general list of values is simply a resource; a value or a reason must be specific to an action in order to posses meaning. Meaning evaluates, recommends, justifies and makes sense of life. Meaning is the context of action, just as existence is the setting of action. Meaning is the primary concern of the ethical leadership theorists.

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