Effectively Lead Your Middle Managers With These 4 Tips

3 min read
Sep 5, 2022 9:58:00 AM

Middle-managers. Directors. Senior Management. No matter their title, these “managers of managers” have a unique role in an organization. They are typically the bridge between the vision of upper leadership and the teams that will carry out that vision.

Being a manager of managers means that you are responsible for the work that your reporting manager and their team produce, but also how effectively they support their team. It is a tough balance to support both the technical and relational skills that your managers need to be successful in their roles. 

But the way you lead these managers will directly impact your organization's culture. 

Here are four tips to help you as you manage your managers:

Use an Apprenticeship Model

There is a famous proverb that goes, “What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand.” This is especially true in leadership and people development.

As a manager of managers, your team is learning how to be effective leaders from everything that you say and do. You can use your one-on-one meeting time to teach and demonstrate the principles of effective leadership. 

Then, spend time watching them as they work. This allows your managers to apply the principles that they have learned from you. As you watch them in team meetings, hiring sessions, and one-on-ones look for places where you can give feedback, both positive and constructive. As you work alongside them to develop their leadership skills, you promote trust and opportunities for growth.

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Utilize Two-Way Feedback

Feedback is a powerful tool to develop your managers into successful leaders. The best feedback is part of a larger conversation.

Each week in your 1:1 meeting ask questions like:

  • Where did you do well leading and how will you continue that pattern?
  • Where did you stumble and how do you plan to adjust?
  • Where do you want to level up? How can I help you?

As your reporting manager answers each question, encourage them to elaborate in detail. Then, you can add your own insight and feedback to help them develop goals and identify behaviors that will help them to grow into effective leaders.

Invest even more in their success and growth by sending them podcasts, books, or blogs about leadership in areas that will help them grow. Ask them questions along with each learning opportunity as a chance to discuss together in more detail. 

Work Towards Their Goals

Often, as a manager of managers, it can feel like the blind leading the blind. You may have a smidge of Imposter Syndrome, but your reporting managers likely do too. This can work to your benefit as you show your team that you’re also human and have areas for improvement. 

Ask your reporting managers for feedback on where they’d like to see you grow and develop to show them growth happens at every level of the org chart.

Then, ask them to share areas where they’d like to grow in a skill, characteristic, or mindset and work through the areas of growth together

Your Guide TO Building A Comprehensive Leadership Development Program

Keep People Your Focus

Your job as a manager of managers is not to be a taskmaster, but rather a coach. You are there to guide, advise, and develop your team members rather than command them. Coaches come to the table with a deep level of care for the growth of each individual and the team as a whole. 

A coach’s goal is to help each person in the unique ways they can grow, meaning they may lead different people in different ways based on their needs, learning preferences, and strengths. 

Not sure how to lead different personality types? Try taking a personality assessment together. Go over the results and discuss things like: what motivates each of you, what are your biggest strengths and areas of improvement, what abilities do you have that are being underutilized?

Being a manager of managers can be a challenging, but rewarding job. Your leadership has an impact on more than just your team. As you lead your managers, by extension, you help to lead and guide each of their teams. 

As they watch you coach and mentor first-hand, they will take those skills and practices to lead their teams, transforming your organization into a culture of care and development.

Leadr is a tool that helps you implement these practices with ease. Since our mission at Leadr is to be your one-stop-shop for all things people, we now partner with the best in business to bring you a world-class HR system that handles everything from 1:1 meetings and feedback, to payroll, PTO, and health plans.

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