34The Middle Manager Impact:

Why a Strong Leader Development System Is Crucial

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal suggested there could be a single fix for many of the big problems that companies experience: hiring better middle managers.1

The article featured a Gallup study from a few years back that found a company’s productivity depends on the quality of these crucial leaders. The study found that managers didn’t just influence the results of their teams, they explained a full 70 percent of the variance—something Gallup called “the single most profound, distinct and clarifying finding” in their 80-year history.

This didn’t surprise me and I was really glad to see the role of the manager being recognized. I see this truth play out with many of the organizations I work with. Great middle managers are the key to creating great companies.

The irony is that middle managers often have the smallest training budget of any group in the organization. Given their level of responsibility, and their impact on organizational performance, this makes no sense.

Being a manager is hard. Good managers have to know dozens of skills. Plus, they face pressure from many directions: bosses, employees, and customers.

It’s important that we hire and promote the right people for these critical positions and that we train them well. But first we need to understand exactly how managers impact an organization.

Here are just a few of the reasons middle managers are so important:

  • They are in ...

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