There are several solid leadership chats and discussions that happen through social media. Tuesday nights, there are two tweet chats that bring people together — #leadershipchat and #leadfromwithin.
Earlier this week, I participated in both. It was leadership conversations in stereo, streaming continuously in 140 characters! Perseverance was the topic in one, and next generation CEOs was the topic in the other. Coming out of this was a thought that stuck with me afterwards. You can see my tweet (@ThinDifference) below, but it was about leading from the middle.
Lead from the middle. It is the new, new principle of leadership. Think of middle children – they are usually the ones who bring siblings together, managing relationships diplomatically and effectively. Think of middle states (i.e., the Midwest) – farmers, small towns, and expansive prairies that instill grounded, simple values of what is possible. Think of the middle of an Oreo cookie – it is what holds things together and brings out the flavor in base ingredients. The middle is full of value!
Here are the key 9 principles of leading from the middle:
- Direct Debates: It is about facilitating open and honest discussions, putting reality on the table and actively working through it. It is about getting candid advice, absorbing it, and then acting on it. It is not malicious or spiteful, but it is spirited and critical to get the best information and counsel possible.
- Mindful Listening: It is about zipping it and tuning in fully to really understand what customers, employees, and partners are saying about your products or services. It is listening with your ears, eyes, and open mind, meaning complete attention to their successes and suggestions.
- Team Flexibility: It is about setting clear goals and then organizing around them. People will not work in silos, necessarily, but will be brought together based on their strengths that will enhance the opportunity for mission success.
- Accountably Free: It is about giving people the freedom to innovate, create, and make things happen, aligned with the organization’s strategy, goals, objectives, and values. Along with the freedom to perform is the accountability to do the right things. It is not wishy-washy accountability; it is real, measurable accountability.
- Valuably Fail: It is about thinking and doing creatively, acknowledging risk is part of the formula. In failing, if it happens, it shifts to learning and getting better from the experiences and diligent work.
- Relentless Learning: It is about spending time exploring, reading, and attending workshops, classes and conferences that enable our minds to expand and our eyes to open to how we can be better and do better. It is about having conversations with others – team members and mentors – to gain their perspectives, insights, and knowledge.
- 100% Real Action: It is about making decisions. It is about getting in the middle of the action when necessary to challenge, nudge, celebrate, and spur on teams and initiatives. It is not ceremonial lip service; it is real conversations, genuine acts.
- Soul Full: It is about leading from within – thank you, @LollyDaskal! It is about having values and living them in our actions. It is about tapping our inner spirit to show strength of character in all that we do. It is about being a real, soulful person.
- Crux: It is about being in the middle of it, not directing, not dictating, and not doing it all. It is about creating leverage points, catapulting initiatives ahead and building people up in what they do and how they do it. It is about bringing people, actions, values, direction, and results all together to move forward!
Leading from the middle is what leaders need to do today. It is the future of being a leader.
What middle principles would you add to being a new, new leader?