Who Do You Work For?

CompassThe art of middle management is navigating multiple bosses. Middle managers are the unsung heroes of an organization. They bridge the gap between visionary senior leadership and the dynamic production team.

Often juggling countless responsibilities, their role is critical in maintaining a company’s external and internal gears.

  • External Focus: Most conversations take place in this space. It’s about driving revenue, nurturing customer relationships, and engaging stakeholders. This role alone can be overwhelming.
  • Internal Focus: Less discussed but equally vital. This encompasses the countless behind-the-scenes tasks that make our external operations appear seamless. From here stems the stress, the endless hours, and the excitement of being a middle manager.

As a former COO, I was at the heart of middle management. One invaluable lesson I learned from Peter Drucker was the concept of a ‘boss list.’  It’s not just about recognizing your direct superior but understanding the web of influence around you.

Had I known earlier, my approach would’ve been to make this list:

  • Understand Core Responsibilities: What is my main job?
  • Identify Accountability Partners: Who directly or indirectly oversees each task I am accountable for?
  • Recognize Influencers: Who suggested this task or responsibility?
  • Pinpoint Performance Reviewers: Who evaluates, gives an opinion, or critiques my work?
  • Identify Supervisors or Coaches: Who offers feedback or invaluable coaching?
  • Know Your Support Network: Whom do I (and my team) rely on?

This isn’t merely a list. It’s a compass. It charts the relationships and stakeholders who shape perceptions of your work.