In the rush to develop authentic, enlightened, transformational c-suite leadership, we often forget about the practicing manager or supervisor in the trenches. These are the folks who don’t have time to read the latest and greatest from Harvard Business Review because they’re too busy keeping the ship afloat.
I’ve made the same mistake, telling myself that you can’t really transform an organization without first transforming the people at the top. Although that’s certainly a true statement, it doesn’t mean that’s the only place you find people of influence. It also presupposes a hierarchy, an organizational structure many companies are replacing with flatter matrix-like designs.
Leaders can be found throughout an organization. Many don’t have a title of leader or manager or anything that would let you know what they really do. Those of us in the change business know that identifying and leveraging these natural leaders is critically important.
But what about the line manager or supervisor? I feel like in the rush to transform the world of work and leadership, we’ve treated middle managers like red-headed step children. We’ve assumed they are not evolved, that they’re incapable of learning new skills, letting go of the reigns a bit, of participating in their own development and personal transformation.
I think it’s time we spread the love to include the hard working people in the middle. It’s time we gave them the time, respect and developmental support they need to realize their potential, to become what we expect them to help other’s become.
I believe we start the process by identifying the best in breed. Find the managers and supervisors who are naturally good at developing people and keeping things running well at the same time. You know the Gallup stats that talk about most people leaving the company because they hate their boss? I believe for every one of these, there’s an opposite – a manager employees love, and would do anything to stay with.
Please help me find these exemplary managers and supervisors. I want to share their stories with others. Together we can give them the love and respect they deserve.