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Do You Get Lots of Work Done? Yes? That’s Too Bad.

Don’t get stuck in the middle.

Today I read an article in which the author asserts there are two types of leaders: those that manage up and those that manage down.
Those that manage up seek to please their manager, and those that manage down seek to please their direct reports.
Obviously there are risks in both styles of leadership.

However the greatest risk is neither managing up nor managing down.
It’s managing in the middle.

Managing in the middle is when the leader is so focused on getting work done, they don’t spend enough time above (advancing relationships and influence with their peers, manager and other senior leaders) or below (developing the capabilities of their people).
The leader gets lots of work done (hurray, another item off my to-do list) but at the expense of advancing their effectiveness and impact.
Inevitably, the leader loses out.  But it’s a slow burn; so the leader is often unaware until it’s too late.
They become known as a solid professional, but not necessarily as a high potential.

So if you’re getting lots of work done, that’s great.  But remember, that’s not the whole story.
Don’t let a short-term sense of accomplishment crowd out the possibility for long-term impact.
Don’t get stuck in the middle.