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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Tricky Transition From Middle Management To Top Management

Question: What are the key actions that the folks in middle management need to implement to reach top management, the next level of their career?
In general, folks at middle management demostrate and focus on following key skills and competencies:
  • Critical Thinking
  • Business Orientation
  • Influencing
  • Customer Partnering
  • Engaging and developing others
  • Self-leadership

While the above skills are extremely important for the middle management role, these skills are not enough for the next level. Now let us look the six key areas/ competencies where the shift is required. While you are in middle management you may still be doing few of these things but in order to get into the exec/ top leader band you need to uplevel yourself significantly in these areas.
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Business Acumen
  • Customer Advocacy
  • Driving change and impact
  • Leading groups
  • Innovation

So while at middle management your graph for these competencies may look something like this…

The above graph is just an example, from here what you need to do is to focus on each one of these skills and uplevel yourself to take these scores from 3 to 4 or from 4 to 5.

Tools and Techniques:
  • Workshops and Seminars
  • Behavioral and Competency Building Trainings
  • Live opportunities at workplace/ Experimentation
  • Partnering with the senior management in shadow executive boards etc.

Actions/ What you exactly need to do in each of the areas:
Strategic Thinking
  • Drive long-term business advantage after assessing all relevant environmental factors
  • Update self on global trends and has a global perspective in relation to own work
  • Develop robust strategies towards achievement of the goals
  • Demonstrate effective use of scenarios to generate and evaluate alternatives
Business Acumen
  • Constantly looks for opportunities for revenue generation
  • Utilize knowledge of various operating and pricing models to improve profitability
  • Identify ways to reduce the operating costs and optimise operations
  • Work to build the brand of the organization and promote offerings amongst customers and industry bodies
Customer Advocacy
  • Constant lookout for avenues for adding value to the customer
  • Identify possible areas of conflict between customer and own organization and works towards addressing them
  • Advise customer with their best interest in mind
  • Ensure that the customer receives the best service possible and feels valued
  • Prepare business cases in line with customer's views, preferences and work to gain support for the same in own organization
Driving change and impact
  • Identifiy and adapt to changing priorities and uncertain times
  • View and utilize change as an opportunity to improve ways of working
  • Keep people motivated and engaged during times of change
  • Take ownership of the change initiatives and ensures smooth implementation
  • Serve as a role model of the change that she/he expects of others
Leading groups
  • Provide clear vision, direction and purpose to team members, ensuring that they understand and are accountable
  • Create opportunities for team members to surpass their performance benchmarks
  • Facilitate collaboration and addresses conflict effectively within the group
  • Take onus of development of team members and promotes learning
  • Empower team members to make decisions by delegating effectively and support them

I completely agree that it is not easy to get from middle management to top management. Lot of people face the same trouble where one mostly gets branded/ perceived as excellent at operations or very good at execution but not seen as exec/ top leader. Developing some of the skills mentioned above may help to change that perception over a period of time.