Leading from the Middle
Leaders aren’t always someone at the top or the head of a department. Even when you’re not at the top, you’re still leading the people around you. Think of the middle child – they are usually the mediators, relationship managers, diplomats. Think of the middle of a PB&J – without the peanut butter, the sandwich is just bread. The middle is full of value.
When leading from the middle, try to apply these principles:
- Be the Director of Discussion – Facilitate open and honest discussions. Gather all perspectives and help the team come up with a resolution.
- Put on Your Listening Ears – Tune in to really understand what the team or client is saying. Listen with your ears and mind, and be open to suggestions and opinions.
- Bend it like Beckham – Have flexibility when it comes to assigning roles or tasks. Look at individual strengths and make suggestions to move items around based on how it best serves the team.
- Lifelong Learner – Spend time reading, attending workshops and conferences. Exposing yourself to learning opportunities opens your mind to new and more efficient ways of doing things.
- Put your money where your mouth is – Make decisions. Go all in when necessary to challenge, encourage, celebrate your team and their initiatives.
- The Gist – It’s about being a leader in the middle. You’re not a director, a dictator or a do-it-all-yourselfer. Leverage the strengths of individuals, build them up, and bring initiatives to the forefront.
You can’t get to the top if you can’t lead from the middle. Leading from the middle is where it begins.