In the era of remote and hybrid work, their role as connectors is more important than ever. Here’s what they need to succeed.
In my 20 years of being one and then researching them, however, I have developed great respect for middle managers. They are the engine of the business, the cogs that make things work, the glue that keeps companies together. Especially as remote and hybrid work takes over — and the distance between employees increases — middle managers are more important than ever. The most effective ones are in possession of humane, sophisticated communications skills and the knack to mediate and find common grounds between actors at different levels in the organization.
In fact, I believe that the division between leadership and management increasingly sounds anachronistic, even obsolete. It is time to reunite leadership and management in one concept, and recognize middle managers as connecting leaders. This concept recognizes that every leader is also a follower, and every follower is also a leader. Thus, a manager in the middle of hierarchical layers builds relationships with those at the top (from a position of followership and lower power) and with the people at the bottom (from a position of leadership and higher power).