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How to Manage People Effectively: A Primer

A quick guide to managing people effectively, breaking the process down into the leadership and talent management components.

Many clients come to me with a very simple question: How do I manage my team? Be it in a small 5-person startup, be it in a corporate finance 30-people office, across different cultures and circumstances, leadership and talent management principles are the same. Usually, the question in how to manage people effectively can always be broken down into two key components:

  1. Leadership (leading, motivating, inspiring your people);
  2. Talent Management (the governance of managing your people – meetings, assessment, etc);

Let’s examine each of the two in detail:


Leadership comes in many shapes and forms. It might transactional or transformational, wartime or peace, long-term or short-term, and it’s very tightly connected to your corporate culture and values. Some assessment frameworks for leadership, both mine and external, include:

  • Transactional vs. Transformational Leadership (being the leader who does the right thing versus being the right person);
  • Values/Virtues/Cultural Alignment (being clear on what the values/virtues of your team are and how many of them the employee embodies helps clarify who will take the right actions);
  • The Leadership Polarization Profile (this is a proprietary tool I’ve developed to analyze leaders across multiple spectrums such as contrarian versus consensual, relationship- versus task- oriented, and many more, helping you determine what you value in your leadership);
  • Wartime vs. Peacetime (am I the kind of leader that straps down and helps the company survive a war or crisis, or do I help expanding in the cruise control, slower stage);
  • Kate Ludeman and Eddie Erlandson’s vintage yet excellent Alpha Male Leadership Style (whether you are a Commander, Visionary, Strategist or Executor, all of them have strengths and weaknesses);
  • Empathy techniques (namely Chris Voss’s excellent Tactical Empathy) (by using statements of empathy and other empathetic techniques, a leader can drive higher compliance and loyalty);

Talent Management

The actual governance of your talent management operations is the second half. You can be an excellent leader and know how to manage people properly, but if you can’t structure meetings, properly give feedback and know what to do with your people, you’re screwed.

Things to take into account include:

  • Meeting governance (For example, 1-on-1 meetings with each team member every week? Every two weeks? All-hands meeting every month? Every quarter)?
  • Individual Growth Plans (many managers only assess talent on their current performance – creating a plan for their long-term growth with recommended resources and frequent updates helps drive loyalty);
  • Employee Clinic” (Brainstorming sessions where the team can open up about failures, how to fix them, and share war stories);
  • The CPG Feedback Model (Critique, Praise, Guidance) (Structuring feedback to be clear on what reports are doing wrong, what they are dong right and what they should do different);


The question of how to manage people effectively usually always comes down to one of two aspects: leadership and actual talent management. While leadership has mostly to do with the actual leader as a person, talent management usually covers the mechanics of managing, guiding and assessing people. A good manager of people should be able to do both.

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