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How to Be an Effective Leader: Empowering Teams for Success

If you ask me what leadership means, I will tell you that it transcends mere management. Leadership is about inspiring, guiding, and nurturing your team to achieve collective excellence.

The 3 Pillars of Great Leadership

Effective leadership is pivotal in navigating the complexities of modern organizations, driving innovation, and fostering a culture of inclusivity and growth. But how can we, as leaders, make an impact? From my years of leading teams, I base my leadership style on three pillars: trust, inclusivity, and a great work environment.


Trust is the glue that keeps strong teams together. The first question you should ask yourself is whether you are doing all that is in your power to make your team trust you. How can you ensure this?

First and foremost, your team should feel that you are there to support them, to help them fulfil their aspirations within the organization and their careers, and that you are the best person to assist them with that. During my work life, I had managers who could not support any of my aspirations. This immediately made me realize that the company was not the right fit for me: I always strive for growth, and a manager content with the status quo, unwilling to improve themselves, is not a manager I would trust. Such a manager will push back on excellent recommendations to keep the team’s capabilities within their comfort zone.

Although some think that to lead a team you don’t necessarily have to be the Subject Matter Expert (SME), I disagree. My experience has taught me to always be the SME for all matters concerning my team. If there are new, unfamiliar tasks to tackle, I make sure I tackle them first, guaranteeing a safer and more comfortable experience for my team. They know they can come to me with any issue they confront, and I will be there to help them solve it.

Another important action that builds trust is leading by example. Actions speak louder than words, and when leaders demonstrate the values, work ethic, and commitment they expect from their team, it sets a powerful precedent. This approach not only builds trust but also encourages team members to mirror positive behaviours.

Remember to take full responsibility for negative outcomes: leadership comes with the responsibility to own the team’s failures as well as its successes. Acknowledging mistakes and learning from them without placing blame fosters a culture of accountability and continuous improvement.

Trust should go both ways: empowerment through autonomy is key to unlocking a team’s potential, and trust in the team’s resources will also be mirrored by the rest of the team and other teams. By ditching autocratic tendencies in favour of a laissez-faire leadership style, leaders give their team the space to work, succeed, and learn from mistakes. This freedom encourages innovation and ownership of tasks, making the team more dynamic and adaptable.

A good leader must recognize that each team member is unique and may require different levels of support. While some thrive on autonomy, others might need more guidance. Effective leaders adjust their approach accordingly, providing “training without training” through strategic sessions and making themselves available for those seeking additional support.


 With the pillar of trust covered, it is important to remember that all team members wish to feel part of the bigger plan and that they are playing their part in achieving objectives that benefit the organization.

A leader’s ability to articulate and share the organization’s vision is crucial, especially when confidential objectives necessitate breaking down goals into smaller, tangible tasks. This inclusivity ensures that every team member, regardless of their level, feels valued and integral to the journey. Presenting the vision in digestible, relatable pieces helps junior members understand their role in the company’s progress, fostering a sense of inclusivity and belonging.

It goes without saying that an effective leader is sensitive to the cultural and personal differences within their team. Acknowledging and respecting differences strengthens the team’s cohesion and fosters an inclusive environment.


Anyone who has spent time in any work environment will agree that a healthy, thriving, and happy workplace is essential. This involves fostering relationships and connections that go beyond professional interactions. A leader who invests in building a community within the team encourages collaboration, support, and mutual respect. To ensure happiness, there are two elements to always keep in mind:

1. Implementing meaningful meeting structures.

Meetings should be purposeful and designed to enhance productivity, not hinder it. There has to be enough time for working, reporting, thinking, strategizing, and goofing off while building great relationships An effective leader ensures that meetings have clear objectives, foster open communication, and lead to actionable outcomes.

The structure that has worked for me so far is the following:

Tactical Weekly Meetings: Aimed at reviewing weekly activities, addressing issues, and defining priorities and workload. These are based on KPIs, and success metrics defined by the manager and shared with the entire team. I allocate 1 hour weekly to this.

Strategy Bi-weekly or Monthly Meetings: This is where everyone on the team is encouraged to share their ideas on pressing topics. Unlike tactical meetings, these sessions are for brainstorming and strategizing on matters affecting long-term success. It’s not about reporting and defining immediate tasks; it’s about exploring “what else can we do?” following regular reports. I allocate 2 hours to these meetings.

(Optional) Bi-weekly Task Force Meetings: Like strategy meetings, these are crucial in environments with significant technological innovation. These meetings require a selected number of individuals with essential skills for strategy creation and implementation, and for data collection and interpretation. While everyone is welcome to learn, not everyone is required to attend.

Daily Check-ins: These are vital for maintaining team morale, especially in a remote setting. They start with a quick check to see if anyone needs assistance, followed by setting up follow-up meetings to avoid taking too much time from this informal catch-up. Then, the fun part begins, which can include anything from discussing weekend plans and hobbies to sharing funny anecdotes or venting about work frustrations. This time strengthens team bonds and creates a supportive network. The result is a team that feels empowered to reach out for any reason, which is a significant achievement for a leader.

2. Measuring Progress Accurately

Accurately measuring progress and transparently communicating areas for improvement are essential. Providing detailed career progression plans, backed by data and clear KPIs, demonstrates a genuine investment in each team member’s growth. A lack of detailed feedback can imply indifference to personal development, undermining trust and motivation.

My motto is “everything is measurable.” A lack of data means a lack of clarity, benefiting the organisation by justifying the denial of promotions or salary increases without valid reasons. With clear data, decisions against promotions can only be made on tangible grounds like budget constraints. Without data, the reasons can be arbitrary, leaving employees without a basis to challenge decisions.

To set clear expectations and visions for the future, I create highly customised Skills Matrix spreadsheets. These outline the hard and soft skills crucial for success at current levels and for future career paths, including scoring to indicate readiness for the next level. This customization acknowledges the unique abilities, skills, and attitudes of each team member, promoting inclusivity by tailoring evaluations to individual strengths and areas for growth.

Challenges of Middle Management

Being a great leader at the middle management level comes with its unique challenges. Effective middle managers create positive environments while navigating company politics and advocating for their team’s needs and resources. This can be a high-cost effort, but I commit fully to ensure fair treatment for my team, a stance not always appreciated by organizations.

Encouraging development and innovation is crucial, especially when organizational growth stalls, to keep teams engaged and forward-looking. Protecting the team from negative influences and malpractice focuses on positive outcomes and productivity, a challenge in organizations where upper management prioritizes self-preservation over best practices. Being a vocal advocate for team growth and equitable compensation is essential, as transparency and fairness are often lacking in the corporate world. Providing data to support discussions about compensation can help find mutually beneficial solutions.


An effective leader in today’s corporate environment leads with empathy, adapts to team needs, and fosters growth and inclusivity. By embodying these principles, leaders can inspire their teams to reach their full potential, contributing to the organization’s success and sustainability.

Written by

I'm Nella Argenziano, and I currently serve as the Head of Advertising for Channel Bakers, while also being an associate of the Chartered Institute of Management. I am in the process of attaining my Chartered Manager status, which marks the next step in my commitment to excellence in leadership and team management. My journey began in sales, transitioning swiftly and rapidly into e-commerce where I've spent the last nine years. This transition was fueled by my leadership abilities and a comprehensive understanding of marketing strategies, allowing me to effectively communicate and actualize the company's vision across all resources’ levels. My academic background in foreign languages and literatures not only informs my approach to global communication but continues to deepen my connection with diverse cultures. Over the past five years, I've had the privilege of leading teams that I built from the ground up. These teams became the strongest in their respective organizations, setting benchmarks and consistently surpassing performance KPIs. My leadership style is predicated on growth, not just in terms of KPIs, but in fostering environments where team members can evolve their careers, often achieving significant advancements within months of working under my guidance. I am passionate about creating workplaces where happiness and productivity coexist harmoniously, grounded in shared visions and mutual understanding. My commitment to this ethos has made me a thought leader in leadership and team management, with a track record of transforming work environments and guiding individuals toward their fullest potential.