John Adair

John Eric[1] Adair (born 18 May 1934) is a British academic who is a leadership theorist and author of more than forty books (translated into eighteen languages) on business, military and other leadership.[2]


Adair was born in Luton and educated at St Paul’s School before undertaking his national service as a second lieutenant in the Scots Guards from 1953 to 1955. Unusually, he served as adjutant of a Bedouin regiment in the Arab Legion[3] and was briefly in command of the garrison of Jerusalem in the front line.[2] He also studied at Hull Nautical College (where he qualified as an Arctic trawler deckhand in 1955) and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, obtaining his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1959. He later obtained a doctorate from King’s College London in 1966 and a BLitt degree from Jesus College, Oxford in 1971. He became a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1966. After working as a senior lecturer at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst from 1961 to 1967, he later worked for the Industrial Society before becoming professor of leadership studies at the University of Surrey in 1979, a post he held until 1984. He was a visiting professor at the University of Exeter from 1990 to 2000. He is currently an emeritus fellow of the Windsor Leadership Trust, where he regularly speaks on leadership development programmes. Since 2006, he has been honorary professor of leadership at the China Executive Leadership Academy in Pudong.[4] In 2009 he was appointed chair of leadership studies, United Nations System Staff College in Turin.[5] He is president of Adair International.


  • Roundhead General: The Campaigns of Sir William Waller (2nd ed.). 1997 [1962]. ISBN 978-0-7509-1312-6.
  • Effective Teambuilding: How to Make a Winning Team (Revised ed.). Pan. 1987 [1968]. ISBN 0-330-29809-7.
  • Effective Leadership (New ed.). Pan. 1988 [1983]. ISBN 0-330-30230-2.
  • Effective Motivation. Pan. 1996. ISBN 0-330-34476-5.
  • How to Grow Leaders: The Seven Key Principles of Effective Leadership Development. Kogan Page Ltd. 2006 [1996]. ISBN 0-7494-4839-3.
  • Effective Communication. Pan. 1997. ISBN 0-330-34786-1.
  • John Adair’s 100 Greatest Ideas for Effective Leadership and Management (100 Greatest Ideas). Capstone Publishing Ltd. 2002 [2001]. ISBN 1-84112-140-1.
  • Effective Strategic Leadership: An Essential Path to Success Guided by the World’s Great Leaders (New ed.). Pan. 2003 [2002]. ISBN 0-330-48787-6.
  • The Inspirational Leader: How to Motivate, Encourage and Achieve Success (New ed.). Kogan Page Ltd. 2005 [2003]. ISBN 0-7494-4456-8.
  • The John Adair Handbook of Management and Leadership (New ed.). Thorogood. 2004. ISBN 1-85418-204-8.
  • Effective Leadership Development. Adair J. CIPD. 2005. ISBN 1-84398-133-5.
  • Adairs Leadership Development Activities Tool kit. Adair J CIPD. 2006. ISBN 1-84398-131-9.
  • Leadership and Motivation: The Fifty-fifty Rule and the Eight Key Principles of Motivating Others. Kogan Page Ltd. 2007 [2006]. ISBN 978-0-7494-4798-4.
  • The Leadership of Muhammad. Kogan Page. 2010. ISBN 978-0-7494-6076-1.

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