Re-Branding the Most Crucial Role for Success: the Middle Manager

by

Take a moment and do a simple Internet search for “Middle Manager.” The following less-than-inspirational headlines may appear in the results:

  • “Why Middle Management Is So Unhappy”
  • “How Middle Managers Can Lead More and Do Less”
  • “Why Being a Middle Manager Is So Exhausting”
  • “Three Root Causes of Middle Manager Underperformance”
  • “Excess Management Is Costing the US $3 Trillion per Year”
  • And “The End of Middle Management”

You’re clamoring to become a Middle Manager, right?

Across nearly all industries and organizations, the same underlying career path exists: a path that starts in a supportive, analyst role (learning from mentors and driving value), progressing to meatier roles of independent responsibility and accountability, and ultimately reaching levels of supervision and the holy grail of strategy. The transition from one role to the next is typically determined by an assessment of the candidate’s skills, such as: strong teamwork, clear communication, comprehensive analysis, confident decision-making, effective leadership, and the likes. These are the skills frequently equated with achieving success and becoming a Leader.

Somewhere on that path, Middle Managers exist. Often overlooked by other alluring titles that evoke a sense of prestige and status (e.g. Director, Vice President, Chief Anything), being a Manager is hardly desired. Yet, it is the core function of a Manager to effectively lead multiple teams, empower a diverse set of individuals, and translate the visionary aspirations of the organization’s leaders into tactical, tangible results. A brand may stem from a leader’s vision, like Elon Musk’s Tesla, but brands continue to exist, innovate, and transform the lives of ordinary people thanks to Middle Management.

Quite a different picture than what the Internet search results return.

Simply put, Middle Management is stigmatized in public and under-appreciated within organizations, yet they are the ones that make it happen.

So, how, when, and why did this come to be? Is it that through films like “Office Space,” TV shows like “The Office,” and cartoons like “Dilbert” that Middle Managers have been portrayed as ineffectual, boorish, and dull, making the position seem undesirable? Is it because that as a society we only ever seem to focus on the most ostentatiously successful, or boisterously accomplished among us, leaving the unsung, hardworking heroes in the dust? Or have corporate structures formed in a way that doesn’t give enough recognition or appreciation to these critical players?

Over the next couple of months, I will be exploring topics within Middle Management in an effort to change the search result headlines, showcase the influence of being a truly effective Manager, and outline ways current Managers can maximize their impact.

I could not be more excited to explore these topics and re-brand the Middle Manager. Stay tuned!

READ MORE

Shifting Perspectives: 3 Learnings From a 3-Day Training

Shifting Perspectives: 3 Learnings From a 3-Day Training

About a week ago, I completed the second live (virtual) training in the process of becoming a Certified Professional Coach through iPEC. Once again, my mind was blown! It reinforced for me that virtual workshops can, and do, work, and, in a lot of ways, I prefer them...

read more
Finding My Work-Life Balance

Finding My Work-Life Balance

In my previous post, I told the story of how I got back into consulting after becoming a mom. All of the diverse experiences I had during that journey have helped me to find my work-life balance by… Defining Boundaries “Go home,” my first boss said 12 years back —...

read more
How I Got Back to Work After Being a Full-Time Mom

How I Got Back to Work After Being a Full-Time Mom

I Landed My Dream Job Throwback to 2014, I had completed my MBA, landed my dream job as a consultant, and was hoping that my new consulting career would exponentially ramp up my career growth for the next 5 years. This would position me to take on critical decision...

read more
Self-Awareness is Key to Belonging

Self-Awareness is Key to Belonging

In August of this year, as part of our annual company meeting, our team at Thought Ensemble participated in the foundational session of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training led by Dr. Nika White, IOM, CDE (she/her/hers). One of the most meaningful moments...

read more
Finding Your Organization’s Magic Pixie Dust

Finding Your Organization’s Magic Pixie Dust

It is often said that organizational culture is like a fog — it is all around us; it impacts our ability to see, to move quickly, and to deliver; but we cannot quite put our finger on it. Indeed, some organizations see their culture as a byproduct of operations,...

read more
We’ve Refreshed Our Brand!

We’ve Refreshed Our Brand!

Why have we refreshed our brand, you ask? Well, as we have grown and matured as an organization, we felt that our previous brand elements no longer represented us as well as they could. You see, we founded Thought Ensemble back in 2008 to help companies better compete...

read more
Thought Ensemble’s Purpose — Inspired in 2020

Thought Ensemble’s Purpose — Inspired in 2020

I recently wrote about how company purpose is being tested and inspired by all the events of 2020. This topic is very real for us at Thought Ensemble. We’ve been thinking a lot about what really matters as we’ve navigated the...

read more
How 2020 Is Testing and Inspiring Corporate Purpose

How 2020 Is Testing and Inspiring Corporate Purpose

In August 2019, the Business Roundtable rewrote their statement of corporate purpose. I followed this with significant interest being that I have never forgotten the debates about corporate purpose in business school almost two decades ago. We were taught that the...

read more
Why Purpose-Driven Organizations May Struggle With Change

Why Purpose-Driven Organizations May Struggle With Change

I love working with companies who really want to make a difference, beyond just making money for their shareholders. I mean, making money is fun and all, but it is even more rewarding to join in on a just cause. Plus, as this HBR article explains, companies who have...

read more