Monday, February 11, 2008

Stuck in the Middle

Our leaders can be frustrating as expressed well in comments from Michael Gray from an earlier post "Hey Leader Have You Landed". Have you ever been or are you currently stuck in the middle of wanting to add value to your team or organization and leader that is changing his/her vision, your role, not practicing what they preach, unavailable, doesn't seem to be listening, is out-of-touch with his/her team, or seems to be a moving target? Ugh.

Here are five things I think our leaders need from us:
  • They need to be able to trust us. Do we "have their back" when others are talking about them? Are you "for" your leader and want what's best for them? Have you told them privately you're "for" them?

  • Be a champion for the vision. Do you advocate the vision publicly? Are you working hard to be aligned to the vision ahead of you? Have you clarified what the vision is with your leader and understand it?

  • Fill in the gaps. Carrying out any plan will have flaws, holes, and surprises. Are you pointing at the cracks or filling the cracks?

  • Lead yourself well. Are we knocking our role out of the park? Are you distracted with busyness or getting the key objectives completed?

  • Respect their time. When you meet with your leader, are you prepared and pithy? Are you helping carry their load to free their time or adding to the load and putting more on their schedule?

What would you add to this list?

Our leaders are flawed, but if we do these things well, eventually we will have opportunities to "lead up" and in some cases even help shape the vision of our organizations.

But what if that doesn't happen? What if you remain frustrated? If you find yourself complaining at the water cooler, trashing the direction of the company, or crossing your arms thinking "that's not my responsibility".... it may be time for you to move on... We all have bad days but we're not called to be a cancer in our organizations.

For a great next step, I'd recommend The 360 Degree Leader by John Maxwell- it has many great insights in leading up, across, and down.

One favorite quote from the book: "If you do what you can, with what you have, where you are, then God won't leave you where you are, and He will increase what you have."


Kristin Baker said...

Thanks for these great reminders, Mark!

Michael Gray said...


You hit me right between the eyes with this post.

Oftentimes it is much easier for someone to sit around the cooler complaining instead of looking at what can be done to better the situation. While I most often try to be part of the solution rather than the problem, your tips definitely reminded me that I can always be doing more to help the relationship thrive.

Good advice!

Mark Meyer said...


I'm with you... The nature of my day involves a lot of sideline conversations and lots of negativity can be thrown around... there are times I "cringe" regretting the way I responded in a certain discussion. We'll keep pressing in!