As the leader in the middle, you get pulled into many different directions. Your boss expects results. Your team requires your full attention.
It can be a world-class juggling act.
Effectively leading from the middle, dealing with competing priorities, means meeting demands from the top while managing the needs of your team.
The key to success is developing leadership skills that are critical for success today and in the future.
7 Leadership Skills for Middle Managers to Lead with Success
1. Critical Thinking
Strategic and critical thinking is vital to lead in complexity effectively.
Think about the big picture, look for patterns, and examine options to take deliberate action.
When juggling several demands, we tend to bounce from one thing to another, reacting and responding. It’s nor a smart nor sustainable practice.
Critical thinking lays the foundation for smart, proactive action and breeds success.
2. Problem Solving
Critical thinking goes hand in hand with problem solving.
You are dealing with more complexity than ever before.
Becoming an excellent problem solver by weighing in probabilities and outcomes – with speed, enables better decision making. Even when dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity.
Excellent communication skills are required to deliver outstanding results day in and out.
Do I speak and articulate my thoughts, information, and messages clearly?
And as important:
Am I listening – really listening, instead of just waiting to respond?
Often, communication is where things break down.
Misunderstandings. Hurt feelings. Tasks unfinished…
By improving your communication skills – speaking, listening, asking questions, clarifying – you can prevent many disasters.
You are part of an ecosystem.
You must be able to lead and work well with your boss, your team, and others you interact with regularly.
Collaboration can spur creativity, innovation, and growth.
After all, we are in it together.
How well do you handle stress, uncertainty, volatility, and setbacks?
Are you a cool cucumber under pressure?
The better you can manage stress – without losing your cool – the better results you get – across the board.
There are numerous strategies to build resilience from learning to keep things in perspective to taking care of yourself.
Which brings us to a critical leadership skill:
Become an observer of yourself: your strengths, preferences, frustrations.
A deeper understanding of yourself allows you to handle any situation better.
Developing self-awareness is a lifelong journey.
7. Continual Learning
And do so fast.
As an agile learner, you can adjust, adapt, and find quick resolutions to tough challenges.
Learner’s mindset is a growth mindset.
Your curiosity and quest for new information help everybody around you and boost your value in the process.
. . .
By developing yourself as a leader, you can successfully lead from the middle. The skills strengthen your career, your relationships, your community, and your life.
. . .
“We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”