Leading from the Middle:
Managing Up, Down, & Sideways

Leaders are almost by definition people who change minds.”  —Howard E. Gardner, Leading Minds

directional-arrowsThere is a lack of trust in senior management, according to a survey by the human-resource firm Watson Wyatt:

  • Only 49 percent of employees have trust and confidence in their senior managers.
  • Just 55 percent say senior leaders behave consistently with core values.
  • Only 53 percent believe senior management has made the right changes to stay competitive.

Clearly, much is going wrong in the workplace. Some 40 percent of surveyed executives doubt their leaders have credible plans to address the economic crisis. Certainly, this lack of confidence harms an organization’s ability to move forward.

In light of these problems, middle managers have unprecedented opportunities to become more proactive by stepping forward and offering course corrections — and they should act with deliberate speed. Good times allow organizations to ride out challenges, but today’s tough financial climate won’t permit a wait-and-see approach.

When strong leadership doesn’t come from above, it’s up to the organization itself — in particular, the people in the middle — to launch a rescue operation.

“Leading up requires great courage and determination,” says Michael Useem, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the seminal book Leading Up: Managing Your Boss So You Both Win. “We might fear how our superior will respond, we might doubt our right to lead up, but we all carry a responsibility to do what we can when it will make a difference.”

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This is a brief synopsis of a 2000 & 1000-word article suitable for consultants’ newsletters for executives and leaders in organizations. It is available for purchase with full reprint rights, which means you may put your name on it and use it in your newsletters, blogs or other marketing materials. You may also modify it and add your personal experiences and perspectives.

The complete 2,000 word article includes these important concepts:

  • What’s Happening
  • Emerging from the Middle
  • 3 Questions to Ask
  • The View from Above
  • What’s Needed to Lead Up?
  • Assertive Diplomacy
  • Challenge Ideas, Not People
  • Push Back
  • Dealing with a Jerk Boss
  • Bounce Back

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Leading from the Middle Feb10-98a – 2000 word article
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