New leaders as middle managers


As a new leader and middle manager, you are the connection between the employees and the senior executive leaders. You are uniquely positioned as the first-level of supervision to the main workforce and have more responsibilities than ever before.

The middle is where it all happens!

Leaders who are middle managers hold many titles: manager, team leader, technical leader, assistant manager or perhaps supervisor. Titles aside, middle managers are the bilingual translators that guide the workforce and/or processes to align with the organisational goals and strategy.

As a new leader in middle management you manage change, mediate, influence, motivate others and drive a positive impression on people and culture. You know it’s a tough gig but you love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. Would you..?

Handshake

So, what is a Middle Manager?

Middle managers are generally the largest managerial layer in an organisation. In large organisations, with hundreds or even thousands of staff, middle managers may have between 1 and 20, or more, direct reports.

Middle managers have broad responsibilities within various industries and businesses. In a retail environment you may be a middle manager with one, two or even no direct reports. With project management, where your responsibilities are for producing a tangible output, you may not have a team at all however you are still a leader and a middle manager.

My definition of a middle manager is –

Middle managers are leaders who implement the strategies set by senior executives and directly influence and control people, products and/or a service.

Middle managers unquestionably translate senior management instructions down the line to an operational level to achieve the desired outcome.

They connect the ‘do-ers’ with the ‘goal-setters’ and make sense of the strategic direction. More so, they are an integral part of the engine room and have direct influence on the workforce.

This is important and it makes YOU very important.

 

What does leadership success look like?

Perhaps I should have phrased this question as – what does my leadership success look like? With the ‘my’ being you, as this is a question you should ask yourself and keep asking yourself.

Why?

Careers are a journey and you will have many successes and failures. Think of this as – goal setting for yourself.

I consider leadership to be successful when:

  • I see the coaching approach I implemented with another leader being used by them to coach their staff
  • staff don’t just accept the way we do things and feel comfortable to add constructive feedback and solutions. This shows we have created an honest and approachable culture, and
  • I am trusted by senior executives to manage high-stakes projects.

Each lesson you learn adds to your experience and, you will learn more the unsuccessful times than the successful times.

 

Conclusion

If you want to increase your success as a leader and middle manager, you must:

  • get to know your business – what your business does and what the companies goals are
  • have a good understanding of the strategy being pushed down the line to you from above,
  • translate what the business goals and strategy are down to the operational level that you are responsible for, and
  • know what success looks like for you.

Remember – being a leader is a long and rewarding journey.

You don’t need to learn all of this in one day. More so, open your thoughts and actions to learning each and every day.

Do these to aim for success as leader-

  • I aim for win-win in conversations with all levels – above and below (and at-level too)
  • I am committed to my people and share with them the goals of the organisation. I remind them that what they do matters and explain how it links to the organisation goals, and
  • I take ownership of my own development. If I don’t know, I either ask more questions to learn or add it to my list to research later.

Never stop learning,

Rex

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