Functional Leadership Model: Key Components

The Functional theory of leadership emphasizes how an organization or task is being led rather than who has been formally assigned a leadership role. In the functional leadership model, leadership does not rest with one person but rests on a set of behaviors by the group that gets things done.

The work that leaders do differs from their public persona. According to functional leadership theory, leaders should complete tasks in a way that maximizes organizational effectiveness. According to this theory, it is the leader’s duty to promote group effectiveness and cohesion. To achieve this end, the leader must do everything necessary.

What is Functional Leadership Model | Explained in 2 min

Key components of the functional leadership style

Functional leadership has a particular set of elements to assist teams in establishing this model because it aims to empower all stakeholders rather than a single leader:

Prioritized needs

As the model’s guiding principle, functional leadership makes sure these three requirements are met:

Before starting an assignment or task, the group’s leader and members must clearly define the needs of each group to ensure that they are met and catered for. This ensures success and goal accomplishment.

Focused on actions

Everyone on the team is a leader in the functional leadership model. Although the team may only have one person in charge of leading and managing it, each member has particular duties and responsibilities that are essential to its success. Consequently, the functional leadership model places more emphasis on the behavior of each group member than that of a single leader.

Driven by goals

The success of the group’s leader and members depends on the project’s completion and achievement of the stated goal. Organizations that support functional leadership are more focused on the result than the group leader’s individual actions.


While a single manager or supervisor may start the project or assignment, in most cases, their lone leadership quickly gives way to a collective of unified workers to best achieve the project’s objectives. Under this model, the concept of “leader” is flexible, with everyone taking on some leadership responsibilities.

Understood duties

Everyone involved has clear and specific responsibilities because identifying the needs of the task, group, and individuals is a fundamental component of functional leadership. Under this model, everyone involved should be aware of what needs to be done and have access to the necessary resources and tools to complete their tasks.


The project is frequently extremely autonomous once all the needs and tasks have been properly discussed and assigned. Because of this, success depends on having a clear structure and organization. Functional leaders make sure there is a record of the tasks and requirements so the team can evaluate their success at the project’s conclusion.


During the course of their assignment, the functional leader will delegate most of their traditional leadership responsibilities to their team members, but one of their major responsibilities is to make sure that everyone on the team is properly empowered and motivated to complete their assigned tasks.


The functional leader should know precisely what resources and tools their team members need when establishing needs at the beginning of the project in order for them to succeed and save time, money, and energy for the organization as a whole.

Modeled behaviors

Setting a good example of behavior while at work is another important responsibility of the functional leader. They should commit themselves to the tasks they have been given, interact with the team members in a positive and professional way, and communicate as effectively and openly as they can.

Guided approach

Although the team members will primarily work independently, the functional leader’s key responsibility will still be to provide oversight and direction. They should regularly check in on their team members to make sure they’re carrying out their assigned tasks effectively and meeting any deadlines for tasks that need to be finished.

What is the functional leadership model?

Instead of giving sole authority to one person to lead, the functional leadership model focuses on identifying the actions and behaviors that constitute effective leadership and disseminating that knowledge to all stakeholders. Even though the functional leadership model is largely theoretical, businesses can use it as a tool to train staff members who are focused on leadership for greater autonomy, productivity, and empowerment.

Advantages of functional leadership

The functional leadership model has many advantages that organizations and teams that choose to use it can take advantage of. Some of the most widespread and useful advantages are:

How to follow the functional leadership model effectively

To make the most of the functional leadership model and achieve your professional and personal objectives, follow these steps:

1. Review the task

Start by going over the assignment with the group as a whole and then as the leader. Make sure everyone is aware of the objectives and steps required to reach the objectives. Describe the fundamental responsibilities and tasks the team must fulfill to achieve the goal.

2. Assign duties

Distribute the specific tasks and responsibilities to each team member. Address any queries they may have regarding due dates, specifics of tasks, or the project overall. Ensure that each team member is aware of their specific expectations.

3, Identify needs

Establish the group’s needs to achieve the end result, taking into account the organization’s overall needs, the team’s general needs, and each person’s unique needs based on their assigned responsibilities and tasks. Make a list of all the materials and equipment your team will need.

4. Provide motivation

As the team starts working on their individual tasks, offer encouragement as necessary to maintain team morale and productivity. Ensure that each team member has the resources they require to complete their tasks while still allowing them the freedom and independence to work however they see fit.

5. Model behavior

You will have your own tasks and responsibilities to maintain even as the functional leader. By exhibiting appropriate focus, attention, and interaction, you can set an example for the behavior and work ethic you want to see from your staff.

6. Check in regularly

Establish a routine of checking in with your team to ensure that they are on track to meet deadlines and have access to all the resources they require. Try to keep these exchanges brief and give the team members space to work independently.

7. Assess objective

After everyone has finished their tasks and the project is finished, have a group meeting to discuss what went well and what the team could do to improve efficiency and overall success going forward.


What is example of functional leader?

The following are the characteristics of a functional leadership style.
  • Priority on needs. …
  • Focus on actions. …
  • Result oriented. …
  • Flexible leadership role. …
  • Clear understanding of individual responsibilities. …
  • Organizing. …
  • Motivation. …
  • Controlling.

What are the 4 types of leadership?

Kouzes and Posner’s Five Leadership Practices
  • Challenging the Process. While achieving results is important, functional leaders search for novel and unconventional approaches to problem-solving.
  • Inspiring a Shared Vision. Inspired action often achieves great results.
  • Enabling Others to Act. …
  • Modeling the Way. …
  • Encouraging the Heart.

Who is called as functional leader?

Action Centered Leadership is an illustration of a functional leadership model that can be used in both management and leadership situations. John Adair has written extensively about this idea, citing group dynamics and how they form and change in the workplace as the source of his thinking.

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