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Three skills for effective leadership

Here we share some advice on working effectively and motivating others in your day-to-day work

2010 Available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish

Good leadership creates strong groups. Photo: Geoff Crawford/Tearfund

From: Leadership – Footsteps 84

Considers the questions 'Who is a leader?' and 'What is good leadership?'

The day-to-day challenges of leadership can be as great as the challenges of vision, strategy and big decisions. However, often these challenges are less obvious. Here we share some advice on working effectively and motivating others in your day-to-day work.

This material has been adapted from the Umoja Facilitator's Guide by Francis Njoroge, Tulo Raistrick, Bill Crooks and Jackie Mouradian.

Refer to the article 'Bringing out the best in people' on p11 for more ideas for leading people. 

How to have an effective meeting

Sometimes meetings can seem boring and long. This checklist helps you to think about how you can make meetings more effective.

Checklist for having an effective meeting

Before the meeting

  • Make sure everyone understands why the meeting is happening.
  • Tell everyone when the meeting is happening and give them enough time to plan and prepare.
  • Give people the agenda and any additional information in advance if it will help them and improve the meeting.
  • If there are going to be presentations, give the presenters enough time to prepare.
  • Organise the food and/or drink if you are planning to have a break. 
  • Prepare the meeting place - arrange seating so that people can see one another and open discussion is easy.

During the meeting

  • Welcome and introduce new members and visitors.
  • Listen to each other.
  • Stop unhelpful discussions that distract people from the main purpose of the meeting.
  • Make decisions.
  • Encourage everyone to participate.
  • The chairperson makes sure the meeting follows the agenda.
  • Make sure the timing is followed if you have told people specific times when the meeting will start and finish.
  • The chairperson summarises the key points before a decision is made.
  • The secretary makes a record of decisions made and who has agreed to do what.

After the meeting

  • Key members of the meeting review the minutes before distributing them.
  • Send out a reminder to all the members about when the next meeting is going to be held.
  • Send the minutes to members before the next meeting.
  • Allocate time to set the next meeting agenda.


A key role of a leader is to think about the delegation of tasks. Delegation is the giving of responsibility for certain tasks to other people. Delegation is really important as it reduces a leader's workload and makes the most of the time available. Other people become more motivated, confident and skilled, and tasks are often completed sooner than they would be otherwise. Here are eight simple actions for successful delegation:

Action 1: Decide who to delegate to.
Action 2: Show the person the benefit and/or the importance of delegating the task.
Action 3: Look at the different aspects of the task and decide together on the level of support needed for each aspect.
Action 4: Make time for training the person in the task, if this is needed.
Action 5: Allow time for the person to practise carrying out the task in a safe environment, followed by feedback.
Action 6: The task is then done under supervision, if appropriate.
Action 7: Meet together to give feedback.
Action 8: Celebrate what went well and affirm the person.

Building a team

It is important to look for opportunities to help your team to work well together. The following activities are designed to help the team members review what the team is like, and what things they could do to improve the way they work together.

The drawing game

Step-by-step guide

  1. Explain to the group that everyone is going to think about the character and nature of the group or organisation.
  2. Invite each member to draw a picture of an animal that they think represents the character and nature of the group.
  3. Put the pictures up on the wall and get each person to present their picture and explain why they drew it.
  4. Use a flip chart or a large piece of paper to write down the common themes and differences.
  5. Discuss what this might mean for how the group could work better in the future.


  • Make sure the pictures are big enough for everyone to see.
  • If people do not enjoy drawing, or are not confident, an alternative approach would be to give them pictures of animals for them to select and talk about.

Team process review

One way of building your team is to encourage your team members to reflect on how they have worked together. This is a good exercise to do after an event or a particular task has been achieved. After the event, ask your team the following questions and then have a group discussion about the answers that were given.

  • What did your team do that helped complete the task?
  • What things hindered the completion of the task?
  • What would you do differently?
  • What did you learn about your effectiveness as a team?

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