In any organization, there are two kinds of middle managers. There are those who get the work done but never think beyond what needs to be completed in the short term. They rush from one task to another, never quite recognizing which is most important to their company’s larger objectives. Though they may work hard and have good intentions, they fail to see the big picture and, thus, add little value to their organization or the functions they manage. Then there are high-impact middle managers. These managers see the big picture. They know how to manage operational practices and execute tactical goals to support strategic initiatives. They add value to their organization and thus elevate their position from that of an intermediary to key player. There is an almost magical synergy in a work environment when high-impact middle managers operate at peak efficiency. Their questions are timely and on target; their ideas are provocative in ways that help move the work forward. They know how to think strategically. Transitions from one task to the next seem choreographed. As they walk through the office, their demeanor is calm but they have a sense of urgency. Busy, focused, and driven, these managers produce results and imbue the workplace with energy. Those who watch these managers may feel motivated or intimidated—but they are not unaffected.
The High-Impact Middle Management System is a very important contribution to the study of organizational effectiveness because it focuses on the people who are the key to any organization’s performance— the people in the middle. These are the people whose efforts determine the success of any endeavor. Leaders can design wonderful strategies, but the success of the organization resides in the execution of those strategies. The people in the middle are the ones who make it work. Based on all the companies I’ve seen, including my own, I’ll take an average strategy that is extremely well executed over a great strategy with mediocre execution every time. That is why we spend a substantial amount of our development efforts on this group of individuals at my company. We know who drives our performance
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