Mid-Pack Leadership

September 16, 2011

Leadership, Personal Excellence

Leading from the middle is an art in and of itself.   Leading from the middle means putting personal motivational issues aside and caring for the follower first. Mid-pack leaders are responsible for providing purpose, direction and motivation – even if they don’t receive those things from the top. In the process, they develop their own leadership skills while maximizing motivation, satisfaction and performance for both their followers and the organization.

The Messenger

We have all been exposed to the mid-pack leader who believes that their primary function is to pass on the instruction of the boss.  They are recognized by their repeated use of the phrase, “The boss wants you to  ____.”  They accept no responsibility for the Mission, nor do they provide any useful purpose, direction or motivation that would inspire the follower to do a great job or demonstrate helpful initiative.  To the follower they might as well be an email. Their repeated use of, “The boss wants…” phrase will soon relegate the mid-pack leader to irrelevance in the eyes of their followers.  If no one is following, you aren’t leading.

The Back Stabber

We have also likely been exposed to the back stabber style of mid-pack leadership.  These jokers go beyond the passive messenger who dodges responsibility.  They actively tell their followers that they have to do this stupid or worthless thing because the idiot boss said so.  Not only do they make their followers feel bad about the job they are asked to do, they virtually eliminate any possibility that the job will be accomplished with extra effort or initiative.  In the process of back stabbing the boss, this type of leader stabs themselves.  They have role modeled the acceptability of this behavior and shouldn’t be surprised when their followers do it to them.

Take Responsibility

Rather than, “The boss wants…” try “We are going to accomplish … because … which will contribute to …”.  Now the direction is your own and you have given it in a way that is most likely to get the follower motivated to give their best performance and feel good about the task. They might go so far as to contribute their own ideas and initiative to give you a better result than you imagined.  A little personal responsibility can make you and the follower feel good about what you are doing and produce the type of performance that your boss might notice.

What if I Disagree?

But what if I don’t like the boss’s initial direction – do I still have a responsibility to assume ownership? Yes you do.  You have a responsibility to appropriately voice concerns, but, having done so and assuming that the action is legal, moral and justified you have a responsibility to get the job done to the best of your ability.  That means assuming ownership and leading the way for your followers.

Becoming a good mid-pack leader prepares you to run at the head of the pack one day.  Don’t ignore the opportunity to develop yourself.

Please  comment on what you believe makes an effective mid-pack leader.




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