Organisations that do not invest adequately in training, skilling and competency development of middle management for leadership roles pay the price later.
As companies strengthen their middle management, the need to prepare mid managers for leadership roles has become more important than ever for the organisation to perform well.
Here I am listing key takeaways from my experiences while mentoring or Coaching middle and senior management leaders in corporations, family businesses and early-stage ventures or conducting Strategic thinking and Leadership workshops for various leadership teams :
1. The right flavour: Middle management is often like the filling in a sandwich or a burger. It is not the bread (the junior or senior teams) that makes the workplace interesting but it is the filling (the mid management) that can make or break many organisations and add the right flavour and employee experience.
2. Face of the company: For most junior staffers, the face of the organisation is the mid manager. Bad management behaviour and practices can make people hate the organisation or spend countless hours cribbing about work culture and bosses.
3. Being role models: Middle-level leaders need to raise themselves up to think and act like leaders. Being a good techie or operations person or a subject matter expert does not necessarily make you a good team manager, a good strategic thinker or a role model.
4. Tackling attrition: Organisations and HR that do not invest adequately in training, skilling and competency development of mid managers pay the price later. Some middle management teams face huge attrition as compared to others. And attrition is not always for better pay or better “prospects” as is usually captured in exit interviews.
5. Getting the best out of team: Many mid managers do not use situational leadership skills and tend to be directive in their approach. They also micromanage and do not adequately trust others. And they use less of delegating, supporting or coaching styles with the teams to get the best out of each individual.
6. Respecting the team: While some managers adopt quiet leadership styles and are effective, a vast number use more dominant and aggressive styles thinking this is the only language the team understands. Today’s generation does not have patience or respect for leaders who don’t respect them.
7. Being humble: Humility can be a great leadership style which middle management leaders can display as it changes the approach to team management from “they work for me” to “they work with me”.
8. Ownership: Mid managers need to take ownership for the fact that their primary role is to be good people managers using some of the qualities described above.
9. Being enablers: They need to use HR and their supervisors positively to be an enabler to support the right hiring, training, performance feedback, individual development and reward and recognition processes that helps the leaders groom teams and potential successors and build a leadership pipeline.
10. Not being power centre: Middle management leadership is not about being a power centre or keeping all expertise to oneself to stay indispensable. That is good for the ego but not for the organisation that has entrusted them with the responsibility and hope for handling larger responsibilities over time.
Everyday nuggets: Grooming is all about inculcating all the little nuggets of various leadership qualities into day-to-day working to help mid management step up to the tasks and expectations. While this list is by no means comprehensive or radically new , moving ahead on these simple steps will surely be a huge step forward.
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Business Coach & Mentor, Executive/Holistic Coach, Leadership facilitator, Writer.
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