CEOs of growth companies need mid-level leaders who deliver results, take accountability, make effective decisions, and proactively solve problems.  Your middle managers should strive to free you and your executive team to focus on the things only you can and should do:

  • Nurture your culture – the identity and mindset of your organization.
  • Refine your strategy – where you play and how you win.
  • Execution Planning – develop the systems to bring core capabilities to life.

Middle management’s responsibility is to deliver the right results through an inspired team that consistently raises-the-bar.  Evaluate your middle leaders against this “Three I” framework.  Middle management’s responsibility is to deliver the right results through an inspired team that consistently raises-the-bar. Click To Tweet

Influence – The true measure of leadership is influence.  Are people willing to voluntarily follow the leaders on your team?  A leader can influence the mind-set, emotions and actions of another individual. Are your leaders doing this today?

To be effective they must have clarity and be enthusiastically bought-in to you, the vision and the plan.  If they are not all in, they cannot deliver the results your organization needs.  After all, they cannot give that which they do not have.

You can measure the influence of the leaders around you by observing how readily their respective teams are willing to change, how quickly peers seek council, and how much senior leadership values their perspective.

Inspire – Inspiration is intrinsic while motivation is extrinsic.  Extrinsic incentive plans and reward systems will motivate for the short term, but inspiration lasts for the long-term.  To inspire, your leaders must be able to connect with the feelings, fears, and passions of their followers.  Emotion creates motion.  Inspired followers feel a sense of purpose in their work and they know they are respected, valued and empowered.

Low turnover, high employee engagement scores, and high energy are indicators a leader is inspiring their team.

Innovate – Leaders must innovate today or run the risk of being irrelevant tomorrow.  Disruptive technologies and disruptive industries are transforming how work gets done and how value changes hands at a pace never experienced before.

However, the enemy of innovation is your comfort zone.  Your comfort zone provides a sense of security that can lead to complacency. Leaders must meet a follower’s needs for security while challenging them to change.  It is a balancing act.  Too much change, too fast, creates chaos.  Too little change leads to irrelevancy.  The enemy of innovation is your comfort zone. Click To Tweet

How does a leader balance the two ends of this spectrum?  One surprising way is to reward failure.  Just make sure you are rewarding the right type of failure.  A great example is Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.  Bezos rewards innovation failure while not tolerating execution failure.

An innovative leader has a cadence to explore new ideas. They use their monthly reflection meetings to brainstorm, capture and implement new approaches to both old and new challenges.

The Bottom Line

You cannot scale a great company without great leaders. These leaders must live your values, wow you and others on the team, and require little management oversight.  This “Three I” framework provides a great starting point.


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