How to lead from 'the middle'… and make it stick
Post on 20-Jan-2017
HOW TO LEAD FROM THE MIDDLE AND MAKE IT STICKListen, debate, decide, and move forward. Take a more consensual, partnership-based and outcomes-focused approach to effectively lead from the middle.
HOW TO LEAD FROM THE MIDDLE AND MAKE IT STICK
Thanks to its connotations in language of being out front, the term leader is commonly associated with the idea of someone who is positioned at the top of or in front of a team or organisation.
Yet this, in turn, creates an association that leadership is something that is hierarchical, command-and-control and top-down, something done to people rather than with them.
There are time-honored tools and techniques
that can help companies transform quickly and research argues that,
in fact, often it is more effective to lead from
the middle; to take a more consensual,
partnership-based and outcomes-focused
approach to leadership.
THIS IS GANDALFOur from the middle leader
THIS IS DONALDOur conventional leader
So, head to head, what might these two conflicting leadership styles say to each other?
Donald: My team likes clarity; they like to know where they stand. And they look to me. Especially when things go bad.
Gandalf: While I recognise I make the final decision, its going to be a better decision and better implemented if I know and understand all the permutations before I make it, and my team understand and accept how and why it has been made.
So, while I am in charge, I lead with questions. To me, asking questions is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Donald: I take responsibility when things go wrong. Its up to me to step up and set out a vision.
Gandalf: Me too. I accept that leadership is about embracing responsibility. How else can you expect people to follow you?
But I also want to learn from and listen to my team and others around me, from whats worked in the past and what hasnt. Again, why wouldnt you?
Donald: My team need to know what they need to do. I need to give them that lead.
Gandalf: When making and communicating decisions I also find it is important, and valuable, to ask why?
Why is this important? Why should we be doing this this way? Why do I think youre the right person to do this?
It not only helps to focus my own decision-making process, but it generates dialogue and questioning, gets two-way insight process going and ultimately leads to more engagement and buy-in with the process.
Donald: Sure it does. But, let me guess, you never get anything done, right?
Gandalf: Quite the contrary. By influencing and inspiring from the middle delegating and allocating tasks becomes more efficient. The whole team in my experience is more productive, motivated and engaged.
Donald: What about the big picture? Arent you so busy being down with the kids you miss the big stuff?
Gandalf: Sure, managing from the middle does mean you still need to take tough decisions and hold difficult conversations. But the fact is that managing from the middle means the culture and environment of the team is now that much more partnership-based.
That leaves me time, and space, to get on with thinking and planning the big picture stuff, as you put it. But thank you for your interest.
TAKEAWAYS:The term leader is commonly associated with the idea of someone who is positioned at
the top of or in front of a team or organisation.
That creates an association that leadership is therefore something that is hierarchical, command-and-control and top-down. This isnt good.
It is more effective to lead from the middle; to take a more consensual, partnership-based and outcomes-focused approach to leadership.
Generating dialogue and questioning gets a two-way insight process going and ultimately leads to more engagement and buy-in with the process.
By influencing and inspiring from the middle delegating and allocating tasks becomes more efficient, and the whole team can become more productive, motivated and engaged.
Managing from the middle also means the culture and environment of the team is a partnership-based model and that can bring out the best in everyone.
Discover the importance of leading from the middle and how this can help you put great conversations at the heart of performance management. Download:
THE LITTLE BOOK FOR...
THE PERFORMANCE CONVERSATIONALIST.How to place regular communication at the heart of performance management.