Leadership simplified: How to successfully lead your team

human resources, leadership, leadership skills, employee wellbeing, employee retention, professional development, feedback, organizational culture

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
― Peter Drucker

Quite a few surveys have found in recent times that poor leadership and unhealthy culture were the top reasons why employees leave companies, such as this one. In one of my last articles I discussed how important leadership is and how to attain it behaviorally without even being in a managerial position; and believe you me, it’s becoming more and more important if a team/group of employees/organization wants to be properly and successfully led. Not much can be expected if the captain of the ship isn’t up to challenge or doesn’t have the proper leadership skills to continuously improve their team, which I also discussed here. Well yes, the buzzword has once again been initiated but as usual, this is easer said than done. Like anything here, let’s try to simplify strategic steps on how a manager can successfully lead their team members encompassing all the parameters needed for productivity, long-term retention, proper motivation, professional progression and overall job satisfaction.

Where and how to start?

In many articles before this one I always emphasize on the importance of structure and organization. If those two parameters are properly executed, the rest of the matter should be smooth sailing. No matter how big the team is, a manager should set up their team concept in these categories in no particular order; general team communication, tracking system of general development and activities, individual potential and development, structured budget for the business year and vice-versa feedback. These five categories encompass the overall leading of the team in all aspects needed for continuous and interrupted workflow, more or less. We will break down each one but please bear in mind that there is no one size fits all, just a matter of personal preference which I found to be the most effective. You can understand this as a general concept form which can be modified for personal use, depending on the managerial lead and style. Let’s dive into it.

human resources, leadership, leadership skills, employee wellbeing, employee retention, professional development, feedback, organizational culture
Organization and structure in a picture – Leadership

General team communication

This one should be easy enough. General team communication basically means a meeting on a weekly or a biweekly basis following some sort of method on what’s being done by each team member. If the team is smaller with more workload than expected on each individual employee, I would recommend a weekly basis so the tracking flow is easier to follow. The best method, in my opinion, is a basic kanban board with to do/doing/done categories which gives the best overview on the activities’ status by each of the employees. What this step gives to the manager is not only the start of a organized structure but also builds a team spirit unintentionally because team members know what each of them are doing. It also creates opportunities for collaboration and assistance when it’s needed which also builds upon employee engagement and workplace bonding. Team members can discuss certain business topics amongst themselves and progress in various ways. While this starts and achieves the general overview of the entire team, it also gives the manager insight into much needed individual management.

Tracking system of general development and activities

As mentioned, tracking of the general development and activities gives the manager clear view on where the team stands in terms of business status, due dates, workload and how to react or influence for the next category. It shows them how to better manage overall business tasks in terms of properly using the workforce, budget and priority scaling. How this looks in practice seems complicated at first but what I like to use best for my kanban board is a basic excel workbook which has all the necessary tools to track aforementioned properly.

human resources, leadership, leadership skills, employee wellbeing, employee retention, professional development, feedback, organizational culture
Basic kanban principle – Leadership tool

Individual potential and development

This is where most of the hard work in managing employees lies. The first two steps were analytics on a team scale with sort of like a bird-view picture of the overall status. A good manager will keep a close eye on the individual potential and development of their employees. Why this is important isn’t even a question anymore, especially with the era of Gen Z workforce and their advanced demands, but the majority of the managers’ responsibility is the effective use of their operational workforce in the end. Keeping track of the individual abilities while also managing their expectations can save any manager’s life, so to speak. So how to keep track of that in practice? A manager should be well-versed into what exactly each particular team member’s job description entails and then accordingly track how well that particular employee executes those responsibilities. I would recommend an excel workbook for this as well where a manager could track that progression (or regression) and mark any personal thoughts on the potential future development in terms of extra activities, responsibilities or even promotions. You can think of this as a personal business team diary. I plan on writing a more detailed version on this particular category soon because it’s more complex than the others for of obvious reasons.

Structured budget for the business year

One of the more important aspects, a manager should keep in mind that they have to, first and foremost, secure adequate work requirements to expect good results from their employees. You can’t exactly ask a recruiter to find you the best marketing manager without the funds for posting job ads, for example. Next to securing funds necessary for operational tasks, the topic which ties in with individual potential and development is the compensation and benefits opportunities available for the business  year. Every team member is different, with different progressions, different demands and different personalities. It’s quite important that the manager has carefully planned the financial career progression for each team member individually for that particular year. Mind you, it’s obviously not set in stone, but a contingency plan has to be set in motion which the manager will later, probably, mitigate according to situation. What I mean by financial is basic salary for the whole year, possible corrections of that salary throughout the year and bonuses which may or may not be paid (depends on the HR strategy). Let us not forget that the income is still one of the most important driving factors (and will always will be) for employees.

human resources, leadership, leadership skills, employee wellbeing, employee retention, professional development, feedback, organizational culture
Planning ahead – Leadership trait

Vice-versa feedback

Hail the most important manager-employee task of the modern workplace. And just how important it is… Feedback is the universal activity for checking the individual employee’s professional progress, motivation, development, professional bonding and other different activities. It is essential that the manager has this in mind in order to successfully lead a good team followed by great leadership. What I would recommend here is a one on one meeting with each individual employee on a, at least, quarterly basis so basically all of the aforementioned categories can be discussed and, as mentioned, then some. A good manager will also use this opportunity to see where they could build upon their own abilities, directly from an employee themselves. This will also humanize the manager in the employee’s eyes as well which will in turn also create a more developed bond/professional loyalty/motivation. This is essentially the critical time to define turning points for each of the employees which will have a definite impact on the future in the department.


To successfully lead a team, a manager should have, if not in this form, something structured and organized which will keep the employees running on good motivation fuel. Most of the people crave good leadership and are biologically wired to follow and any manager should keep a really good note of that by effectively using their position to lead the team. If this doesn’t come natural or by instinct then this form should suffice in check-marking the organization and structure within the team.

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