We’ve all heard and likely executed, the notion that the example and company culture starts at the top with senior leadership. While it is tremendously important for those in senior leadership positions to embrace, embody, and champion organizational changes and organizational culture, middle managers play a crucial part in implementing and executing organizational strategies and cultural changes.
Neglecting to strengthen the middle of an organization may lead to high turnover, a decrease in employee engagement, or poor succession down the line.
Strengthening the middle leads to better leaders, prepared for managing change, coaching emerging leaders, and executing the strategic vision of the organization. Employers need to train and develop mid-level managers.
Middle managers face a whole new set of leadership challenges as they begin to progress their careers. It’s no longer just about holding employees accountable for their work and their contributions. Here are five suggested skills your mid-level leaders need for success:
- Strategic Leadership
Leadership is much different from management. Middle management is the cornerstone of an organization’s strategic initiatives and the execution of those initiatives. Making the transition from manager to strategic leader requires much more critical thinking.
While managing demands planning, budgeting, organizing, performance managing, and staffing, it takes a true leader to understand the significance of setting direction, aligning people, empowering, motivating, and inspiring.
It’s when a manager finds his or her ability to go beyond the managing and embrace being a leader that success is reached.
- Retaining and Engaging Talent
Building a greater awareness of how talent development is a critical success factor in ensuring the future of the organization in a competitive marketplace. Middle managers should obtain the knowledge of what defines the top talent in an organization and what qualities or characteristics are associated with talented professionals.
- Developmental Coaching
Managers have a lot of responsibility. They have routine team management to look after and often have a plate full of work only they can complete. It’s crucial for middle managers to not only manage their day-to-day but to strategically think about how they can improve the way their team works.
One of the key aspects of their role is to help their team members grow, develop, and flourish. This can be achieved through coaching.
A great leader is someone who manages workload and performance but also someone who nurtures their individual team member’s abilities. Someone who is one their employee’s side, who encourages, and works with employees to set goals that challenge them.
Turning middle managers into developmental coaches can have an incredible impact on the success of an organization. Coaching employees turns into engagement increases, performance boosts, and job satisfaction.
- Finance for the Non-Financial Professional
Financial acumen is a skill that can be invaluable to a mid-level leader. Having an understanding of how a department, division, or team financially impacts people, expenses, revenue, margin, and indirect costs such as time, inconvenience, etc., puts middle managers in an advantageous spot for their group to strategically align with the organization.
The results of a mid-level manager understanding basic business finance include the ability to identify and quantify key drivers, develop, measure, and report key metrics, budget, present effective business cases, and interpret key financial statements, among many more.
- Emotional Intelligence
Understanding self-awareness and social awareness begins with discovering more within oneself and others. A mid-level manager should use their emotional intelligence to improve their own communication, conflict management, and the communication with their team.
In addition, losing their emotions and lashing out an employee can create a negative effect on everything the manager tried to accomplish. Not to mention such outburst can lead to liability. Managers have to stay in control of their emotions.
Senior management should keep in mind that good middle managers makes their job easier. Good luck!