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Middle-Management and Getting the Bigger Picture

Have the people above me reached a rank where common sense no longer functions?

It’s easy to critique the performance of the leaders above you. I did it. The answers to what was going wrong seemed so obvious. “If they would just do this…” I see this in Fortune 500 companies, in fire departments, and in law enforcement. The leaders in the middle are sure the people above them have reached a rank where common sense no longer functions.

When I am consulting or training within these organizations this view is a signal to me that the middle managers may have forgotten their past as well.

Wherever we are in the organizational chart, we need to reflect back on our last job. When you were doing your previous job, did you truly understand how hard your current job was going to be? Did you understand all the extra responsibilities, meetings, and personality dynamics? Did you have as broad a perspective as you do now? 90% of the people I ask admit that they were unaware of the difficulty of leading from the middle until they were actually in that role.

Therefore I challenge you, as I challenge those leaders in the middle of the org charts I work with, to give the people above you a break. If you are dealing with dynamics that the people below you don’t perceive, then that is probably the same lack of perception you have for what your leaders are going through.

When you stop yourself from criticizing and instead work to understand, you exercise Humility. Recognizing your perspective might be limited based on your current position, should trigger you to ask more questions. Working to understand how strategies were developed or decisions were made above you will help you see the bigger picture. People in the middle who understand the bigger picture will be more prepared to lead at a higher level in the future. They will be the ones who gain influence over the decisions of upper management.

Humility - Believing and acting like “it’s not about me.”

When you are leading from the middle, one of the best ways to prove “it’s not about me” is to put yourself in another person’s shoes and work hard to understand their perspective. We often talk about how leaders need to do that with the people they are called to lead. But what about doing it with the people you are called to follow?

When you work hard to understand another person’s perspective, no matter if they are above you or below you on the organizational chart you are exercising Humility, learning, and becoming a person who people will want to listen to and follow.

Dig Deep Questions:

  • How can you gain a better understanding of your boss’s job?

  • How will that help you lead your team better?


Here is a quick assessment that will take you 5 minutes to figure it out. Nobody will ever see your results but you.

Warning: If you are not going to be honest with yourself this is a worthless assessment.

To take the assessment use the QR code above or go to

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