There’s a lot of hype that goes into the topic of leadership. I’ve read the books, heard the speeches and given a few of my own. Most often we have a tendency to gravitate toward the person at the top of the org chart and set our sights on making her/him the be all and end all of a successful organization. Not to belittle the role of the CEO, let me introduce a new angle on what leads to successful organizations. It’s having a core of talented middle managers.
1. Middle managers have direct access to critical mass.
The raw math of an org chart of an organization of any size shows us that it’s the middle managers that are commanding the most people. That means it’s the middle managers that are in a position every day to influence the skills and behaviors of legions of people. Staff your middle manager ranks with talented individuals and you’ve unleashed the power of large numbers – that being the huge size of the front-line workers.
2. The profile of middle management lends itself to high performers.
Middle management tends to be comprised of moldable, energetic, willing and able individuals. Maybe that’s because most middle managers are early in their career, eager to grow, to stand out, to impress. By in large, the middle manager is not afraid to get her hands dirty, to roll up his sleeves and to tackle the workload head-on. So, why is all this of value? Well, re-read the last few sentences and ask yourself: ‘If I were an executive would I want someone with the attributes mentioned above working in my organization’?
3. Change begins at the top but is manifested toward the bottom.
Sure, executives set the course for change. That’s their job. But, for change to take hold, it has to reach the customer. And, it’s the front-line employee that most often transacts with the customer. That front-line employee in most organization reports to middle management. Therefore, it’s the middle manager that becomes the true change leader. S/he needs to work with, through and around the hierarchy and clear the path for the frontline worker. That’s when real work gets done.
Having high performing work teams is the holy grail for most organizations. Build an A-Team of middle managers and high performance is right around the corner.