Practical Leadership & Management Skills for Busy Leaders and Managers

The ‘middle management’ conundrum

The ‘middle management’ conundrum

The role of the middle manager is often the most difficult one to perform in any organisation.

Thinking of a typical hierarchical organisational structure, there are pressures from above to achieve more with less resources; there are continual pressures from below to exceed expectations and there are often cultural pressures from the middle-management peer group created by everyone trying to survive in a fiercely competitive and sometimes combative environment.

Common Issues

Middle managers often suffer from stress at work for a variety of reasons including: -

1. Demands placed on them from above to achieve results

2. Some subordinates needing to be tightly managed to perform

3. Having to roll up their sleeves to ‘clean up the mess’ left by others

4. Internal politics and blame culture can lead to stress and sometimes fear for their jobs

5. Poor organisational culture can feel like ‘the system is working against you’

Amid all this, some middle managers feel they are ‘taken for granted’, believing they are the very glue that holds everything together and – out of their sheer conscientiousness to ‘make everything work’ – give their all to overcome the challenges above to ensure the organisation performs as well as it can.

The middle management conundrum is a matter of learned helplessness. Over time, the pressure from all directions reduces very capable people to ‘put on a tin hat’ and keep their head down. Eyes roll at the inadequacies of ‘this’ system or ‘that’ department and a range of behaviours begin to creep in such as negative attitudes, disengagement, increased sickness and absenteeism, conflict, poor morale, a lack of motivation and even outbursts of frustration and anger which can result in bullying and harassment claims or grievances and disciplinary action having to be taken.

None of this improves the situation, it exacerbates it. Ironically, the solution lies in their development. Educating middle managers to lead and manage more effectively gives them the tools and techniques required to break free of such challenges, improve their own working lives, of those around them and so improve organisational performance. That is why this programme has been developed.


Once developed, managers going through this programme will have the knowledge and skill to exponentially improve organisational performance. They will ask new questions, challenge for improvement, call for support from all directions. They will understand what best practice leadership behaviour looks like and will be encouraged to support their leadership team as well as their own teams. That may mean they choose to apply pressure ‘up the line’ in addition to improving how they lead and manage ‘down the line’.

It is essential those people senior to this group understand they will be encouraged to step up and that they will be supported to do so. Senior leadership failure to respond positively to such requests for support will undermine the group’s belief in the system being taught with potentially negative consequences all round.

Please let us know if you would like more information about how senior leadership teams can support their managers to become better leaders.

Course Structure

This six-day leadership and management development programme has been designed to appeal to a ‘no-nonsense’ group and is delivered at pace with considerable experiential and practical reference.It has been designed to lift the sights of the group to develop a higher leadership level, unite them as a management team and allow them to implement what they learn immediately.

The following six modules can be delivered as one programme or taken as individual modules

Module One: Becoming a Management Team

Module Two: Learning when to Lead or Manage

Module Three: Hands-On People Management Skills

Module Four: Improving Task Management to Reduce Stress

Module Five: Clear communication to motivate and inspire

Module Six: Who do you think you are?

Consider this...

The Four Oxen and the Lion

A lion used to prowl about a field in which four oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they turned their tails to warn another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in the separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four.

United we stand, divided we fall.


Contact us for a FREE, no obligation, conversation, Contigo is Spanish for “with you” it’s at the core of everything we do, working together with our clients and business partners to deliver exceptional first class training, representing your interests as our own.

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