From The Middle

The range of a leader’s influence, when authentic, is determined less by title and more by actions and service… 

We live by a romantic misnomer that leadership always places us at the pinnacle of the organizational pyramid.  A falsehood, if found to be true…would require a whole lot less leaders in our institutions and organizations.  In fact, very seldom do leaders reach the organizational apex…rather, in most instances, most will be required to lead from the middle.

One of the most difficult positions in leadership…

The middle requires a leader to be effective and influential in support of another’s vision and decisions…while lacking title and position.  Leader and follower, simultaneously.  Not a simple or easy position to be placed in.

Which is why, in all actuality, leading from the middle requires expanded leadership skills and strategies to be effective and influential.  It takes deep understanding to know when to lead and when to follow…when to make a decision and when to implement.  A delicate balance at best.

In the middle, a leader’s influence must be spherical…flowing out in all directions, simultaneously.

In today’s rapidly advancing society, leading from the middle requires moving beyond implementing…and/or deferring difficult decisions.  Deferrers and implementers forfeit the productive possibilities offered to their leadership.  Valuable opportunities often lost, mired in frustration and complaints…left behind while lamenting decisions handed-down from above.

Whereas, leading from the middle necessitates modern day movers and shakers.  The pace of change requires mid-level leaders to have greater initiative, ability to pull the trigger on difficult decisions, and capacity to work more creatively and implement more innovatively.

Leading from the middle entails employing a varied lens…creating different pictures and understandings within the organization.  Leaders at this level are conscious of the view looking up from the valley…as well as comprehend the panorama from the peaks…and the necessity to unite the two.  It is in the middle that the vision is connected…from above and below.  Mid-level leaders are connectors…the bridge that serves to connect the vision.

Once we comprehend the importance of mid-level leaders to the organization…we will invest more deeply in their growth.

We are entering a time when the capacity of mid-level leadership will determine the effectiveness of an organization to move forward.  We are closing the chapter on the days of the lone leader who can be and do all…if it ever really existed at all.

Great leaders understand their strength comes from the middle…from the core.  

The connectors.

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One thought on “From The Middle

  1. Thank you, David. This post could is relevant for principals, but also for teacher-leaders. Our schools are organizations where the “prescribed leaders” don’t always share their visions or guide effectively toward identifiable goals. Fortunately, in the current climate of Sir Ken and the examination of all things education, there are a large number of engaged and critically thinking teachers who are fighting inside that void of active leadership. They are providing their students and colleagues with direction, often through the example of their own teaching. There has never been a time when ideas can be shared so freely. I feel it is the access to 21st century discussion, rather than mere 20th century commentary that is moving our collective practice forward so effectively.

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