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TrailBlazers: How Top Business Leaders are Accelerating Results through Inclusion and Diversity by Lenora Billings-Harris, Redia Anderson

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Chapter 6. Middle Managers

Much-Maligned Malcontents or Implementation Powerhouses?

"It's one thing to get good at using... the big picture at the executive level. It's also great to have people at the grassroots level getting involved in recruitment, community based events, and mentoring. But... middle managers are the people who, on a day to day basis, are trying to make these things work. I think we've done them a disservice by not dividing this work up into smaller bite-size pieces that they can come and get when they need them.... That's been part of our problem."

—Deborah Dagit, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Merck

When leaders discuss the need to implement strategy, the conversation takes a typical turn when the discussion focuses on middle managers: It's unfavorable.

As we've discussed, the CEO sets the tone at the top, and the senior leadership team "gets it." Together, they communicate and exhibit behaviors that underscore their commitment to advancing inclusion and diversity. It's easy to observe their behavior by hearing both their remarks and the expectations they've set for their direct reports. One can also gauge their level of dedication by observing the metrics for which they are holding their direct reports and others responsible. There is a clear line of sight between the strategy, communications, metrics, and accountability for results—and it's called a scorecard.

As the conversation continues, the shifting focus turns to the grassroots level regarding ...

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