How to Lead a Team of Two to Five

So, you have a team. What do you do now? How do you get started leading your team? How can you lead your team to success? Follow these seven steps for leading your team to success:

How to lead a small staff team

1.  Write a Job Description for Each Person

It’s time to stop talking about job descriptions and write them. Every person has a right to know what you expect of him. Every person has a right to know if she is succeeding or failing. How many times have I said this? Here is a format for a basic job description:

  • Title:
  • I report to:
  • Reporting to me:
  • Effective Date:
  • Primary Win: (One Sentence)
  • General Description of Role: (One Paragraph)
  • Priority Tasks: (8-12)
  • Compensation:

If you have no current job descriptions, have each person write his own. Then you can review it together and come to an agreement. Once you have agreed upon job descriptions, make sure to revisit and update each role description quarterly.

2. Check-In Daily

Wondering what your team is doing on a daily basis? A daily check-in meeting is a perfect way to stay in contact. The daily check-in is a five-minute standing team meeting at the beginning of the day. At this meeting, each person gets one minute to communicate what she is working on today. Don’t sit down for this meeting and don’t have any lengthy discussions. Simply check-in, and connect. You don’t necessarily even need to do this meeting every day. Perhaps you have a weekly staff meeting on Tuesdays. You may choose to have a check-in on Mondays and Thursdays. In the case that your team works remotely, this meeting could even be done via video-conference.

Keys to success: Keep it to 5 minutes. Don’t sit down. Don’t have lengthy discussions.

3. Gather Weekly to Connect and Communicate

Once a week, gather your team together for an hour-long weekly staff meeting. The purpose of a weekly staff meeting is to get on the same page with things that are happening within the next 7-10 days. The weekly meeting is not the place to do intensive planning and shouldn’t take 4 hours. A four-hour meeting with five people is 20 hours of spent productivity.  Save your strategic planning sessions for monthly and quarterly meetings.

Keys to success: Meet every week. Keep the meeting portion to 60 minutes. Don’t try to do long-range planning.

4.  Implement Annual Planning

If you forget everything else I say in this post, take your team through annual planning. There may be nothing more important in leading a team than having each team member write an annual plan that addresses the following five steps for his area of oversight:

  1. Define The Ministry
  2. Describe The Present
  3. Diagnose the Problems
  4. Design a Plan
  5. Detail the Progress

Here are detailed instructions for exactly how to coach your team members through this plan.

5.  Meet Monthly to Monitor Progress

Once a month, get your team together for a half-day meeting. This monthly meeting can take the place of your weekly staff meeting on this particular week. In your monthly meeting, have each person take 15 minutes and update the team concerning where he is with his annual plan. Have him share what is working, what is not working, where he needs to change course, etc.

Monthly annual plan updates:

  • Keep team members on task with annual plans
  • Are the key to annual plan implementation
  • Facilitate clear communication across the organization
  • Put in place a team management structure
  • Battle against ministry silos
  • Allow you to care for your team rather than always having to be the boss
  • Prove productivity or expose the lack of productivity

The monthly meeting is also a great time to do some short-term planning beyond what a weekly meeting will allow.

Keys to success: Make sure each person has a copy of every person’s annual plan for this meeting.

6. Escape Quarterly to Play, Pray, and Plan

Once every three months, get away with your team for a whole day to build relationships and plan for the next three months. If possible, make this an overnight get away. Quarterly getaways will keep you from attempting to turn your daily, weekly, and monthly meetings into long-range planning sessions. These quarterly getaways are one of the best things that I have done in building team unity and planning for the future.

Keys to success: Get out of town. Spend time playing, praying, and planning.

7.  Commit to a Collaborative Goal

At every quarterly getaway, identifying one clear goal that your entire team will rally around over the next quarter, will keep your team headed in the same direction and guard against ministry silos. Not sure what your top goal should be? Answer the following question: If we accomplish only one thing in the next three months what would that be?

You don’t have to lead a large team to be a good team leader. Even if it is only two of you, following these seven steps will set you on the road to strong and effective team leadership.


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