In the dynamic world of middle management, where you navigate the complex terrain between the upper echelons of leadership and strategic decisions, organisational culture and change initiatives, and the frontlines of the workforce, understanding your values is paramount. It’s a challenge many of us face, and it’s also an opportunity for tremendous growth and leadership impact.
Challenge: Understand your value and values
One of the top challenges middle managers like you encounter is the profound need to understand your value and values. This often leads to a lack of self-awareness and unrealistic expectations of complete alignment with your organisation’s culture and objectives. You find yourself at the crossroads of personal principles and corporate demands, wrestling with questions about who you are in this role and how you can authentically lead while fitting into the organisational puzzle.
But let me assure you, this challenge is not an insurmountable obstacle. In fact, it’s a remarkable opportunity for you to excel as a middle manager. Let’s delve into two powerful opportunities that can help you thrive in this space:
Self-Reflection and Assessment
The journey to understand your value and values begins with introspection. It’s about peeling back the layers of your identity to uncover your core values, strengths and weaknesses. Here’s how you can embark on this transformative process:
Self-awareness: You must engage in self-reflection exercises to gain clarity about what truly matters to you. What are the values and principles that guide your decision-making and behaviour as a middle manager? These might be integrity, collaboration, innovation or something entirely unique to you.
Assessment tools: To aid your self-discovery, you can leverage various assessment tools. Personality assessments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the DiSC assessment can provide valuable insights into your behavioural tendencies and preferences. Additionally, 360-degree feedback, where you gather input from peers, superiors and subordinates, can shed light on your strengths and areas needing improvement.
Journaling: Keeping a journal can be a powerful practice. It allows you to document your thoughts, emotions and experiences in your management role. Over time, patterns and themes will emerge, offering a deeper understanding of yourself and your values.
With self-awareness as your compass, you can confidently navigate the challenges and ethical dilemmas that arise in your role. You become a more authentic leader, aligning your actions with your values.
Complimentary alignment with Organisational Values
While complete alignment between your personal values and your organisation’s values may be elusive, you can seek complimentary alignment.
Think of it like a well-designed sofa adorned with cushions of various shapes, sizes, and patterns—all distinct yet harmonious. Here’s how you can achieve this alignment:
Open conversations: initiate dialogues with your superiors, peers and HR departments to gain a comprehensive understanding of the company’s culture and values. You must actively seek areas where your values align with the organisation’s and areas that require adjustment.
Bridging gaps: Instead of attempting to change your values to fit the organisation, you can identify practical ways to bridge gaps. This might involve finding common ground or discovering innovative approaches that respect both your principles and the company’s objectives.
Purpose-driven leadership: As you foster alignment, you uncover a greater sense of purpose in your role. You lead with authenticity, knowing that your actions are a reflection of your values. This authenticity not only enhances your own job satisfaction but also influences those you lead, creating a more positive work environment.
Self-Coaching Questions for Growth:
1. Self-Awareness Questions:What are the core values and principles that guide your decision-making behaviour as a middle manager and how do they reflect in your daily actions within the organisation?
2. Alignment Question: In what specific ways do your personal values and the company’s values currently compliment each other and where do they diverge? How can you actively work to bridge any gaps and create greater alignment?
3. Growth and Adaptation Questions: What weaknesses or areas for improvement have you identified through self-reflection and feedback from others and how can you leverage these insights to adapt and grow in a way that supports both your personal values and the organisation’s objectives?
Remember, your journey towards understanding your value and values is ongoing. It’s a process of self-discovery and adaptation. But it’s also a remarkable opportunity to lead with authenticity, purpose and unwavering commitment.
Let’s embark on this journey together, knowing that your collective growth as a middle manager strengthens not only your organisation but also your professional and personal life.
Here’s to thriving as a middle manager who understands his / her worth and leads with values! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Share your insights with me, and let’s continue to learn and grow together.