How To Make the Most of Your Midlevel Leaders

 by Michael Frisbie

Bridging the gap

It has come to my attention that a heightened focus on mid-level, or emerging, leaders has taken the industry by storm. However, I’m not just talking about the leadership development industry. This focus is being seen across many industries, pharmaceuticals and energy, in particular.

Upon further reflection, it became clear why this is the case: both industries are facing major change initiatives, and mid-level leaders have been proven to be the most effective at managing change and ambiguity in the workplace.


For a number of reasons:

  1. Mid-Level leaders are best positioned to link strategic initiatives from senior leaders with executable commands for first-line leaders.
  2. Mid-level leaders are most equipped to influence networks of people internally, as well as external stakeholders.
  3. Mid-level leaders have the ability to drive context for organizational change.

That being said, you’re probably more interested in how both industries are effectively investing in mid-level leaders and why this is important.

At Forum, we advocate the value that lies in exploring solutions from industries outside of one’s own to gain a different perspective. So, let’s take a closer look at these two industries.

Energy: Driving Synergy

Many energy companies are focusing on targeted growth, or, an effective merging of top-line and bottom-line growth. The reason is simple: margins are tight, industry-wide consolidation is underway, and a significant portion of the industry’s leaders will be retiring in the near future.

Our clients in the energy sector have been able to drive a context for profitability throughout, and mid-level leaders have served as the catalyst. Essentially, mid-level leaders are the crux behind aligning teams with organizational goals, generating and driving dialogue across boundaries and rewarding strong performance.

We have found that mid-level leaders in the energy sector who are able to execute the following prove successful:

  • Identify strategic influence portfolios (key stakeholders)
  • Build strong collaborative investments (foster clarity and harness accountability).
  • Influence with personal relationships (sustain and enhance working relationships).

Pharmaceuticals: Managing Change & Ambiguity

The Affordable Care Act – what percentage of the US population actually understands this? With that question in mind, we have seen a number of our pharmaceuticals clients focused on how to effectively manage change and improve upon collaboration with respect to internal stakeholder audiences. Concurrently, the need to influence external stakeholders is ever present as payers, providers and medical device manufacturers are linked in a network that decrees holistic, end-to-end solutions as premier. Furthermore, with patent protection laws evolving there is a need to accelerate strategic initiatives for healthcare related companies to remain profitable.

In this respect, we have learned that mid-level leaders need to possess skills in networking, collaboration and influence to be successful in today’s healthcare climate. You can think of mid-level leaders as the glue that makes the collective population effective.

In order to be most effective networking across different lines of business while managing rapid change within the industry, we have found the COST model to be a great tool to help drive the ever-important internal monologue:

  • What Control do I have?
    • How can I take Ownership and improve the situation?
    • What is the Scope and its impact on me?
    • How much Time will the situation span?

In short, mid-level leaders should become accustomed to asking such questions while they evaluate how to best make use of limited resources to meet time-sensitive deadlines.

Mid-level leaders are vital in driving a high performing culture throughout an organization’s ranks. We have found that a healthy organizational climate begins with leadership best practices. When properly executed by mid-level leaders, discretionary energy and high level results should ensue.


Want to develop your managers into Leaders? Consider Paragon Strategies coaching program. Email for a complimentary two sessions with an Executive Coach (a $650 value completely free).

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