the middle matters

The Middle Matters: Five Habits of High-Performing Middle Managers

This On-Demand event was originally presented on July 19, 2023 (60 min)


In today’s fast-paced business world, middle managers play a critical role in ensuring that organizations run smoothly and effectively. However, middle management can be a challenging role that requires a unique set of skills, including the ability to lead and motivate a team, communicate effectively with senior leadership, and manage multiple priorities.

To help middle managers succeed in this critical role, join this webinar, “The Middle Matters: Five habits of high performing middle managers.” In this webinar, we will explore five key habits that high-performing middle managers cultivate to excel in their role and drive success for their organization.

The first habit we will explore is “living your values.” Middle managers who prioritize their values are more likely to inspire their teams and achieve long-term success. By living your values, you can create a culture of integrity and ethics that will guide decision-making at every level of the organization.

Next, we will discuss “starting your legacy today.” Middle managers who focus on building a positive legacy are more likely to create lasting change within their organization. By prioritizing long-term impact over short-term gains, you can establish yourself as a trusted leader who is committed to the success of your team and your organization.

The third habit we will explore is “knowing yourself.” Middle managers who take the time to understand their strengths and weaknesses can better lead their teams and make strategic decisions. By developing self-awareness, you can identify areas for improvement and focus on developing the skills you need to succeed in your role.

The fourth habit we will discuss is “expressing with intention.” Effective communication is critical for middle managers who need to communicate with senior leadership, manage their teams, and build relationships across the organization. By communicating with intention, you can ensure that your message is heard and understood and that you are able to build strong relationships with colleagues at all levels of the organization.

Finally, we will explore “uplifting others.” High-performing middle managers prioritize the development and success of their team members, creating a positive and supportive work environment that drives success for the organization. By investing in your team members and providing opportunities for growth and development, you can create a culture of excellence that benefits everyone in the organization.

By cultivating these five key habits, middle managers can become high-performing leaders who drive success and achieve their goals. In this webinar, we will provide practical tips and strategies to help you cultivate these habits and succeed in your role as a middle manager. Whether you are new to the role or have been a middle manager for years, this webinar will provide valuable insights and actionable advice to help you excel in your role and drive success for your organization. Join us for “The Middle Matters: Five Habits of high performing middle managers” and take your leadership skills to the next level.

Attendees will learn

  • To appreciate the toughest yet most perfectly positioned role in the organization
  • How to understand the value of middle management
  • The three powers of middle management
  • The five habits to achieve confidence and clarity in the role of middle manager


Sally Foley-Lewis inspires and skills managers to be high performing, purposeful and productive. Obsessed with leadership and professional development that ensures people reach their potential, Sally’s presentations and programs positively impact confidence, leadership, and results.

  • 2023 Asia Pacific Stevie Award Silver – Thought Leader of the Year
  • 2023 Woman to Watch in Management – Women in Biz Global
  • 2021 USQ Outstanding Alumnus of the Year – Business and Enterprise
  • 2021 A.I. Influential Businesswoman – Winner – Most Inspirational Leadership Development Specialist (Australia)
  • 2021 ROAR Success Awards – Silver Leadership Award
  • 2020 Gold Stevie Award – Female Entrepreneur of the Year – Business Services
  • 2020 Bronze Stevie Award – Female Entrepreneur of the Year – Consumer Services
  • 2020 Breakthrough Speaker of the Year by Professional Speakers Australia

Also, named a LinkedIn Top Voice, she is also a global Certified Professional Speaker and has authored multiple books. The drive to support and skill middle managers come from her own diverse roles, CEO, and senior leadership experiences. Sally delivers presentations, keynote speeches, workshops, and coaching – live online and face-to-face – to skill managers, boost productivity, engagement, and self-leadership.

Blending 20+ years of working with a diverse range of people and industries, in Germany, the Middle East, Asia, and across Australia Sally has extensive qualifications, a wicked sense of humor, and an ability to inspire and energize.

Connect with Sally on LinkedInFacebookInstagramYouTube, and at


Related products from our presenter


The Middle Matters: Five Habits of High-Performing Middle Managers

Training Tools for Developing Great People Skills

This event is sponsored by HRDQ. For 45 years HRDQ has provided research-based, off-the-shelf soft-skills training resources for classroom, virtual, and online training. From assessments and workshops to experiential hands-on games, HRDQ helps organizations improve performance, increase job satisfaction, and more.

Learn more at

On-Demand Webinar Recording
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Hi, everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar, The Middle Matters: Five Habits of High Performing Middle Managers. Hosted by HRDQ-U and presented by Sally Foley Lewis.
My name is Sarah, and I will moderate today’s webinar. The webinar will last around one hour, if you have any questions or comments, please type them into the questions box on your GoToWebinar control panel, will be using that a lot today, So, if you could actually find that for me, type in there ‘hello’, where you’re coming from, just to get used to using that questions box there for us.
And while you’re doing so I’ll be talking about our sponsor for today, which is HRDQ. For 45 years HRDQ has provided research-based, off-the-shelf soft skills training resources, for classroom, virtual, and online training. From assessments and workshops to experiential hands-on games, HRDQ helps organizations improve performance, increase job satisfaction, and more. You can learn more at
And now I’d like to welcome our presenter, Sally Foley Lewis. Sally inspires and skills managers to be high, performing, purposeful, and productive, Obsessed with leadership and professional development that ensures people reach their potential, Sally’s presentations and programs positively impact confidence, leadership, and results. Named a LinkedIn “Top Voice”, she is also a global certified, professional speaker, and has authored multiple books.
Her drive to support and skill middle managers comes from our own diverse roles, CEO and senior leadership experiences. Sally delivers presentations, keynote speeches, workshops, and coaching, live, online, and face to face to skill managers, productivity, engagement, and self leadership.
Blending over 25 years of working with a diverse range of people and industries in Germany in the Middle East, Asia and across Australia. Sally has extensive qualifications and a witty sense of humor and an ability to inspire and energize. Thank you so much for joining us today, Sally.
Wow, Sarah, Thank you, you make me sound amazing. So, believe every single word, Sarah said, OK. Thank you so much and welcome to today’s webinar. I’ve. I’ve worked with thousands of managers and I’m not as something interesting and are Actually, we’ll go back a slide. I’ve noticed something quite interesting that when I ask what’s it like to be manager. Almost always, I get this amazing passion come through. And what we’re trying to achieve with the business, which want to drive through this. We’re trying to achieve that.
We’re delivering X, Y, Z and then when we get a little bit granular and I asked them to describe their day to day, they say something quite different.
They say how they feel pulled in every direction, stretched thin, and squished in the middle.
And they often feel, neglected, lonely, and isolated.
And I’m wondering if you can relate to that as a middle manager, and if you can, feel free to pop that into the questions box as well, and share, share what you think about that, too, you know, maybe put in there, a few words to describe what it’s like for you to be a middle manager. I’d love to know.
So yeah, OK, here we go. Thanks Jackie unsupported.
Yeah, I think that’s a real common one. Absolutely.
Cheerleading in a minefield, John. That’s an awesome way. That’s a great metaphor or reality, cheerleading in a minefield. Yeah. So many fires, sometimes a target. Definitely pulled in many directions. Yeah. Thank you. Never coming in yet.
Definitely pulled in many directions, frustrated by the lack of progress, despite my best efforts yet cheering and keeping track. Yeah. Exhausting.
Yep, definitely. So, you know, let’s think about those words for a moment. And what if we could turn that around and achieve the results that you want with a high performing team with less stress, more joy, you know, and a greater sense of control.
For 20 years, I have specialized in helping managers like you be productive, confident, and driven leaders. So that you can have what you want to achieve if more. And also with a lot less stress.
And I’m absolutely obsessed with helping middle managers enjoy the job. You know, I often think, I would love it for middle managers to be at a barbecue on a Saturday.
And when someone says what do you do you say, I’m a middle manager with a legitimate smile on your face? Yeah. I think that’s just one of the things that’s really quite important.
Just 20% of surveyed managers strongly agree that their organization help them be successful people, managers. So a much larger group of respondents, 42%, either disagree or unsure that that organization sets them up to be successful people managers. And this is why I am absolutely obsessed with working with middle managers. I have been in operations, and I’ve worked my way through all the way to the CEO. So, I’ve seen Middle manage it from every vantage point, including being one. So, in my work with middle managers, I noticed that the most successful managers, the, the ones who build the strongest teams, not only meet their targets, but surpass them. They’re the ones who get promotions, who thrive in their roles. They have at least five fundamental habits that I’m going to share with you today.
Just want to check the questions box. Julia, I report to a great manager who makes my manager role much easier.
Love that, Love that! Yes, it’s, it’s important to know that not, not all bosses are terrible busses and, and there are some great leaders out there who are raising up The the the capacity the capability and making space for great leaders in mid-level management. So thank you for sharing the positive to yeah, so?
ready to get into it. Let’s start with our first habit, and the first habit is all about living your values and so let me share with you why this is so important to your leadership.
When I was 15, I was assaulted by a police officer, and this was witnessed by another police officer. And when I went to that witnessing officer to ask for help, she looked at her friend.
Looked back at me and said, Yeah, you’re OK, and brushed me off while wearing a uniform that represented to protect and to serve the community.
That officer abused her power in order to protect herself and her colleague.
In that moment, a value was born in me, zero tolerance for abuse of power.
It was cemented.
It was super glued in me right then, now if we fast-forward 12 years or so, and I mean my very first job, fresh out of University, all new, old fresh. And, and I know everything because I’ve been to University kind of attitude.
one of my tasks was to do the ordering the supplies for the rest of the department and my boss may the signatory. So it had to be my signature, that went on every hand written order form. Now, I was just back from some annual leave, it was my time to pull together another order of supplies. I was flipping through the order book, stopped at the last order copy, and I noticed it was not in my handwriting.
The date was when I was on leave.
While I was away, as my eyes scan down the page, my heart stopped the sink.
My stomach started to clench, and I realized what had happened, and I promptly blurted out someone’s borge my signature.
And my boss was sitting nearby.
When I did that she shrugged his shoulders and she flippantly remarked. It was roughly two liters of milk.
That value kicked in, my boss had abused her power.
And in my mind, if she can forge a signature for two liters of milk.
What else will she do?
This was not the place for me, so I soon gave my notice. I was out of there.
And today, is that value, that zero tolerance for abuse, keeps me steady in the face of wrongdoing, keeps me steady when I get challenged by certain behaviors or an organization going through crisis or change where behaviors get pulled and pushed to extremes, it keeps me strong.
It keeps my integrity in place and everybody who works with me, and all the people who have worked with me know that I will not abuse power, that I will not take the credit for other people’s work, that I will raise up and shine a light on great performance.
So that’s a real clear example of my value in action.
Let me share one more story that shows just how much others will respect you when you know what you stand for.
Now, this is about American politics, but it’s not about the politics. So bear with me on this one, OK. Please don’t hold the politics against me. It is a story about John McCain, who was running for the Office of President of the United States, and during the American Presidential Compact Campaign, when Barack Obama. As you know, a Democrat was running against John McCain as you know, a Republican. Now in the audience at a McCain rally, a woman calls out, you know, a bomb is not even American, he’s an Arab.
Right? There McCain really could have leverage that so easily for political points scoring.
He really could have gone hard on promoting that for his own campaign that he?
No, he could have said. Yeah, he’s on American. He could have easily gone with the crown. We want Americans only.
But he didn’t.
He looked at the woman and he said, no, man, Obama is a decent family man. He’s a citizen like you and me. He’s a good man. He’s an American.
Now what he said right there in that moment became one of the key things. He’s remembered for his honesty.
His own party prodded him for that. Even his opponents respected him for this.
He said what he said because honesty was far more important than himself. Honesty was his value.
So, your values, what they do, is, they hold you steady.
They keep you in your integrity, they keep you grounded.
They actually reinforce who you are to the world, and that leads to receiving the respect from others, because it keeps you consistent, keeps you constant in this world.
So, what are your values?
Do you know them?
Do others know your values, and do you live them?
What is it that you stand for?
What are some of your non negotiable …?
I’d love for you to just type into the question box, what your top values are, if you, maybe topic, type in your, your, your top three values, if you know them, and when was the last time you thought about them?
Thanks, Jen. Relationship, integrity. Contribution. Fun. Yes, yes, yes. I don’t love it. Yes. We’ve got honor and integrity, we’ve got accountability. If you say you will do it, do it. Absolutely. Sure. Things happen. And you can explain that and make amends or, you know, come up with alternatives. But, yeah, definitely, you say you’re going to do it, do it. Honesty. Ethics, loyalty, consistent honesty, honesty, personal, courage, openness, honesty, integrity, accountability, honesty, integrity, honesty, integrity, honesty. And Terry. Personal courage: Collaboration, community. Connection, service. Yeah, respect.
Lots of honesty and lots of integrity. Yeah, ah, lead by example, discipline, dedication, helping others succeed. Exploring and love the cool Kimberly. Thank you. Transparency. Yes. These are brilliant.
Thank you for thinking about your values. Yeah.
I think they’re really important because your values of what you stand for.
It’s it’s who you are, And it’s how people will be able to relate to you or otherwise. So I think that it’s really critical that we do take the time to reflect on what our values are, and let them guide our behavior.
So, moving on then, our next to habit is thinking about if our values are what you stood for.
Let’s move into the future.
What will you be known for? What will you be remembered for?
What do you want to leave behind?
So, you want people to be able to know what you stood for, long after you’ve left your departmental your organization, What do you want?
That’s still there because of you?
And when you look back over your career, and you look back at what you’ve created, we what you’ve left behind what you’ve done. This is your legacy. Yeah. And your legacy is what you’ll be remembered for, what you stood for.
So, I’d love to give you some examples. And because I don’t know where you all work, I’ve taken some, some general examples for you. So, if we take malala, who was the Nobel Laureate in 20 14 at the age of 17, you know, she was the young lady that was fighting for education, and she was shot in the face, you know?
She’s, a young leader, focused on social good, and continues to make a significant impact as a contemporary leader. Her advocacy for girls’ education and women’s rights has transcended, transcended national boundaries.
She’s become a prominent voice for global education, and malala’s legacy lies in her continued effort to ensure educational opportunities for children.
Particularly girls in marginalized communities, She’s used a platform to amplify the voices of young activists and push for policy changes to improve access to quality education.
So, you know, really thinking about the human and what it is that they stand for and what it is they’re doing. Some other examples, Bill and Melinda Gates, the co-founders of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. You know, they’ve dedicated their lives and wealth to philanthropic and global health initiatives. The legacy lies in their extensive efforts to improve global health, reduce poverty, poverty.
We reduce poverty.
Poverty. Oh my goodness, just so you know, it’s for 16 AM here, where I mean in Australia. So I need to put … back in and speak rapidly properly. So they’re here to reduce poverty, promote educational opportunities through the foundation. They focused on initiatives like eradicating infectious diseases, improving access to healthcare, enhancing education systems worldwide.
So really, really valuable work there. And that is what they’ll be known for.
Now this person may or may not be familiar to you.
Yeah, Paul Polman is the former CEO of Unilever, the major brand new leader. He’s known, actually, for his commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Under his leadership, Unilever implemented the Sustainable Living Plan, a comprehensive strategy aimed at reducing the company’s environmental footprint, and improving the well-being of people around the world.
So, his legacy is about that environmental impact and sustainability, and that’s really impressive coming from a major brand where the impact and the footprint can be quite significant.
So, my question to you, then, is, the key to leaving a legacy, you know, is to identify what you want to achieve. And to start early, to start now. And the question is, what do you want to be known for doing or achieving?
There are two leaders that I’ve worked with just recently and, quite, quite coincidentally, they both have the same legacy that they want to leave behind. They both want to have their respective teams be conceited, be performing. They want to transform them into centers of excellence.
And so they’re working with their teams to shift culture, to align with roles and responsibilities, To update content, to look at the work that, but that both their teams are doing, and make sure it’s aligned to what they want to achieve, and the way in which they want to get their work done.
And so, it’s really interesting that both these leaders are really driving this, this legacy pace, and to create high performing centers of excellence.
So what about you, over to you: Imagine you’ve been promoted or you’re leaving the organization?
Or either way, you’re shifting around, OK, you’re leaving your current role.
Um, what is it that you want to create?
How will you make sure that what you do won’t be forgotten?
If you think to the future, back to this role that you’re in now, what did you do, what do you want to be known for?
Take a moment just to think about that.
Jane says, My legacy, I helped organizations to co create workplaces that we genuinely want to inhabit I align people, purpose and environment.
Nice one, Jane. Yeah.
That’s powerful. Thank you for sharing that.
So, your legacy, you know, to be non for what you stood for, that work has to start to die.
You know, we can’t wait until we’ve submitted out our leaving notice period, and with one month or two weeks left to go, and then decide what it is we want to leave behind. We need to think about this now.
It gives you purpose, it gives you direction, and it has to start to die. So your legacy starts today.
Oh, there we go. Thank you, Paula, mentoring young people. Yeah.
Catherine Kindness, above all, and being a genuine and helpful resource and John made my community better, in some way, help people inspired and motivated people. Yeah, Julia, my legacy is one I value wholeheartedly. Respect everyone’s opinion as there is no, I in productive team effort.
The end line team. Yeah. Jackie. I want to be missed. I want to be missed because I was the go to person. I was there for everyone and I had the answers. Interesting. That’s an interesting one. Yeah. And Jacqueline leave my team strong with a strong amount of resources, curriculum, and training materials, knowing they can be strong and independent and thrive without my support. Set him up for their own success and their own reliance, ants, and power. Yeah, Lori succession, making sure that each person has been given the tools to make them successful. Those are just amazing. I want to copy them all, so, and thank you so much. This is really, really, this is really powerful, because what this does is, it sets your direction. It gives you focus.
So, thank you for that. My next challenge to you, though, is, if you’re just thinking about this right now for the first time, or you’re being reminded of it for the first time in a little while, what’s one action you’ll take in the next seven days to move you closer towards achieving your legacy?
So we’ve looked at values.
Yeah. And? what they stand for?
And we’ve looked at your legacy, what you stood for, Yep. The most powerful managers that I know, that I’ve been able to have the privilege of working with and supporting, they live their values every day, They’re building the legacy that they want to leave behind.
And these two habits are drivers.
They come from what matters to you personally as a leader.
They’re like your footprint, or your, your, your personal signature as such. So our next three habits are more related to how you lead your team. They’re the practices that are going to help make your life easier.
For you, your team, they’re going to make them more productive with less stress, and the third one is, knowing yourself.
And most managers I work with say that the greatest challenge is time. They say, there’s sometimes don’t know who they are, what they’re doing, where they are, because they’re so busy. Getting on with doing stuff. Yeah. There’s a, you know, a to-do list. As long as they’re, one person said, it’s like being trapped and stuck on a hamster wheel. I don’t know some. Can you relate to this even if it’s just some days? Yeah.
So a third practice, really successful middle managers, of them being high performing and of high performing teams that don’t just focus on the outer world, but the inner world.
And what I mean by that is paying attention to how they are affected by what’s constantly being thrown at them, how they feel, how they think, how they’re reacting, their self-awareness.
And by doing that, they can respond rather than react. Yeah, they get to make better choices.
So, I’m gonna give you three examples of managers I’ve worked with, who, before we worked together, didn’t really get it where it wasn’t aware of it. Didn’t have this in practice.
But when they looked at how they were reacting, how they thought and felt to what was going on around them, they could stop, think, and respond and make better choices.
So, during a Middle Manager Leadership development program, I was running I worked with Patriots and she was an Absolute Star Performer. As a middle manager, she and her team exceeded all their objectives and key results.
They’re the end a month and a quarter numbers were perfect, but to get that, she worked some long hours, often putting in a few hours, every Saturday and Sunday to catch up, she missed family time. She was always exhausted and when challenged to delegate more, she often said it’s just quicker and easier if I do it myself.
Now, I don’t know about you, but as a manager as a leader does that resonate when it comes to delegating, It’s just quicker easier if I do it myself.
Yeah, Matress saw her approach, her actions is actually being helpful, because when she looked around at her team, she thought everyone’s just busy, right?
I might as well do it myself, it’s quicker if I do it myself. Everyone’s already under the pump.
So she thought it was just part of being in charge of a team and part of being in charge of a busy team.
And the problem was, these were excuses and assumptions, and what beaches didn’t actually realize was the problem was the problem was herself that she couldn’t see her own options.
So when we worked together, our beaches took a good look at her behavior and her beliefs and she began.
She began to see that she didn’t fully trust her own people to manage things themselves. And as soon as she realized it was about trust, she could focus on building and strengthening relationships, getting to know who people more and, and building the trust.
As a result, this actually then led to her being able to delegate more.
And so she hits her targets still, but with far less stress, and, you know, far more family time, and a lot less unnecessary, long work hours.
So in another leadership program, I facilitated, I met this guy called Dave, and he shared that his company was going through an acquisition.
The team, who he had, were cause, you know, little bit concerned about the changes. Team were anxious, they started gossiping about it, started making some speculation and that quickly tipped into complaining, and so the culture of the team started to shift towards a negative.
And Dave, who cares for his team, wanted to be sympathetic and wanted to, no show that he cared for each team.
And so despite his best efforts, trying to be close to them and trying to support them, he’s tipped into actually being their friend and his influence actually dropped.
And so he was, he was found it quite difficult to be able to keep everyone on course because he shifted from a leader into a friend.
So when we work together and examined what was going on, looked at his actions and beliefs and what was happening for him, he realized he was trying hard to be liked by his team, thinking it would give him more influence.
It’s thought it would navigate the team better. But the problem was, he didn’t realize, he’d become their friend.
Um, Of course, not in and of itself a bad thing, but because he joined the gossip grapevine then the complaint as cardinal, he’d lost his power to influence.
And once he realized this, he stopped and he stopped and he, he stopped trying to be one of the gang, He understood his own emotions and his own thoughts and feelings about the acquisition that was going on, so he could distance himself from the emotions.
Regulate them, and then step into being the voice of qom.
Have the voice, the tone, and the message the team actually needed to hear, And he can pull back is his influence.
And then, in another program, I was running for Middle Manager Leadership Development, got an inside view into Sharon’s world. Sharon, is someone who’s across everything. She’s fully present, for, absolutely everything. She’s in anatomy meetings all day. Every day. She’s always available for a team of colleagues in the executive.
It’s like, no one is kept waiting. She’s on to everything. It’s almost like she’s super woman. She seems to have a magic ability to be everywhere for everyone.
The problem is, she wasn’t making timely decisions. And when, when she did make a decision, they weren’t always the best decision. It was usually just the quickest, fastest decision that she could make or think of.
And so she didn’t realize that there was connection between the two, that, when we worked together, she realized that she loved to be needed, something with the ego there, You know?
And she was prioritizing that over actually, giving herself time to think more strategically. So once she realized that she knew to be a better decision maker, she needed to step back and create some boundaries.
So she started the practice of blocking time and a calendar for thinking.
We’re giving herself the time and space to actually think.
So that was a really valuable lesson for her.
So with self-awareness, comes positive impact.
When you stop and look inward and really notice how you think and feel, and react to what’s happening around you, you get to make some powerful changes.
You know, managers who lead the highest performing and consistently observing their own behavior and beliefs, and questioning themselves, in a positive way, not in a self doubting way, but just really, what is the best use of my time? What is the impact of what I’m doing right now? What is the impact short-term and long-term.
Asking themselves, you know, what am I not seeing?
when you start to do this regularly, You, to be able to make powerful and positive change choices, you know, like beaches, learning to delegate, like Dave, learning to be the leader of the team needed and then, like, Sharon, learning to set some boundaries.
So, my question to you, have you ever worked with someone who you wish they could see in themselves what, you know? you could clearly see in them.
Eunice. Yes, the Sarah will probably be able to answer this.
The, Will the presentation be recorded?
I’m, I’m pretty confident we’re actually recording, so you’ll be able to catch up.
Yes, thanks, Communication is recorded. You’ll be able to access that on ….
Yeah, yeah.
Julia, I believe that by ensuring an agenda is Provide an events, Have scheduled meetings, staff has been to attend with ideas. That will make a meeting. Constructive and productive, especially as everyone’s time, is valuable.
That, yeah, that’s respect for time, isn’t it respect for time, and helping people prepare to be, and bring the best, the best game?
Yeah, definitely have attempted to help my manager to remove her emotion before making decisions. All that’s I like that. I mean, you’ve said, I’ve attempted. Hopefully, you’re being more successful.
No, it’s about if you remain calm, you provide a space for them to stay calm, as well, and that’s like, when you get into rapport with them, and you hold a calm space, let them almost talk out what they need to talk out. You’ll see them come down, so that’s great. Hopefully, it’s a work in progress.
Yeah. And you can’t control their emotions. You can only have an influence, so I love that you are having a go. So I think that, at some level, they probably really appreciate that. Yeah.
So we’re good to move on to number four, our fourth habit of high performing middle managers. Now, gallops Employee Engagement study scares us year in year out lightly with these terrible engagement statistics as low as the mid twenties.
And it’s really important that we think about the impact of this, because consistently, year on year study after study, one of the top five skills that leaders must have these, and Sade, along with me, communication.
Yeah, you knew it. You were saying it with me.
How you express yourself is as more critical today than it has ever been. Especially when we’ve still got a whole lot of down the lanes like this, wherein hybrid environments, and people are just not wanting to work the way they used to work five years ago.
But there’s one Whiskas misconception where so many bosses get communication wrong.
And let me give you an example of this.
With, by sharing a story about my friend, Michelle, in more particularly, Michele’s boss, now, Michelle’s boss came to her with a folder.
Anne, dumped it down on her desk and said, Have a read. This is the next program we’re implementing.
Let me know if you have any questions but, you know, just run an app, run it through the team. Get it. Get it implemented. Yeah. You? And he actually said, Do the rah rah thing. Get them all excited.
You’re right.
I’ll leave it with you, and walked away.
Now, Michelle, when she’s telling me this story, she’s like, You could see the shoulders slump, You could say, Michelle just de flight, you know, like a balloon.
Yeah, Michels boss thought it was enough just to inform her that she could go away and get on with it.
Not inspired at all.
No, this is.
And for Michelle, this was just another thing that got added to her to-do list.
Now, how much do you think she would prioritize that based on that exchange?
Imagine, if Heyd reframed it, what if he, she had a stronger purpose to that program that she that he wanted her to implement? What if he inspired her to do it, and to do it well?
What if he tapped into her existing capability to do the work and her expertise?
What does he offered to discuss the implementation strategies with her versus let me know if you have any questions?
If Heydon Spired have differently, would she then prioritize the work?
This one misconception where we have bosses get communication wrong, is that they think they only need to inform and you’re never just informing.
You know, you might be giving information, but you’re always doing 1 of 3 much more important things.
You’re either inspiring someone, you’re either influencing someone, or you’re collaborating with someone.
I want you to think about that in your role.
OK, Sarah. I don’t know, There’s something going on with the audio, just a message from Jeff there.
I’ll work with Jeff. You can hear you.
OK, thank you. So let me just recap: You’re either inspiring someone influencing someone or collaborating with someone. You know, your team look to you for inspiration and what gets them engaged.
Your expression down is to inspire them, You know, your, your colleagues, your peers.
In different management, I’m sorry, your colleagues, your peers, in your management team, you know, it can often feel like competition, because you you may have to compete for resources, you may have to compete the busses time.
But if you flip this and work with your peers, excuse me, Sorry about that. It opens you up for greater support.
It opens you up for the opportunity to share resources, problem, basta, problem solving.
You’re in that situation where, as a team, you can actually bid for greater resources. And no, middle managers, I believe up perfectly positioned like no one else in an organization.
As a middle manager, they get to see what’s happening at the operational levels, and be able to use that information to influence upwards.
So the key decisions are being made with the best information Hayne, your executives.
They actually need your influence, so so, to me, successful middle managers of high performing teams ask themselves, anytime that they have to deliver a message, they have to ask, what is my intent, yeah.
Is it to inspire someone? Is it to collaborate? Is it to influence?
Great. Middle managers never just inform.
Over to you, inspire, collaborate, influence. Think of the next conversation that you’re going to have after this session today.
Which of the three will be your main purpose?
Really think about that.
Take that on board and really think about how you need to implement that particular approach to your communication.
Amy’s going to inspire. Yay!
Love it. Thanks, Amy. Yeah.
So, we, before we bring this home with number five, I really want to ask you to just pop into the question box if there’s any questions so far.
Because where we’re at number five, mm hmm.
Jane says, Help them understand the why, of what they are doing.
Absolutely, and Simon sinek’s work on start with why is so incredibly valuable, isn’t it. You know, we’ve just got an hour together, and when I do workshops around these five habits, we definitely go into the why, the what, and the how, and the engagement pieces that go with that.
And that it, you know, thanks for talking about this gene, and linking it here. Because, I totally agree with you that, whether it’s whether you’re inspiring, Dan, collaborating across, are influencing up.
Starting with why?
Or making sure the wise inlaid in that conversation is what no hooks people in. It’s the hook, so definitely.
Julia, the one fact among so many I enjoy working for my manager is her even temper.
She brings the calm to any situation and keeps us focused when the day becomes too hectic and overwhelming, she’s a great mentor. Oh, that’s just so lovely.
Thank you for sharing that.
Simon sinek’s amazing, Yes, in our Jackie, in our office of 10 It is really hard not to be friends with the staff. It is something I need to work on. It is, isn’t it?
It’s a real, you’ve gotta find that sweet spot that balance, where you are friendly, but where? Where do you have to pull back and be a leader and be the voice of calm and drive performance versus when you can actually be social? And it’s not easy, is it? And I think sometimes we need to be a little bit more explicit. When I was a CEO and I wasn’t going to share this story but you’ve just prompted me Jackie’s, I’m going to share it.
And when I was the CEO of an organization, my senior project officer was actually my bridesmaids, and I had to put her on performance management.
Now, was not easy, but I had to find the language and find the connection, to be able to say to her, No, this is not about you as a person.
This is about your performance, right now. Tell me what’s going on. And she, She wins once she shared with what was going on. I said, Look, we need to move you to this so I can get you the resources that you need and help move you to where you want to be. So, yeah, it’s definitely a challenge.
And I think sometimes reminding ourselves whether it should be friendly or friend and respecting the role so that we can stay in a level of authority that is influential.
Yeah, Can you summarize all the points? Sorry, I came in late and started on three. OK, I’ll do the wrap up and do the do the five points at the end no problems? Jennifer and Brenda. I wanted to influence exclamation mark exclamation mark, exclamation mark a slash four exclamation marks. Brenda, Will you go girl? Definitely, yeah, excellent point friendly versus friend. Yeah, thanks Jim. Yeah. All right.
Now, I haven’t seen any questions, so let’s move into number five, the fifth habit of high performing middle managers. And let me start by saying to you, did you know that a lack of opportunities for growth accounts for 37.1% of employee departures?
So not great there, and that’s from Culture and Gallup found that 59% of millennials say that they find development opportunities extremely important when deciding whether to apply for a position.
And employees who don’t feel that they have access to learning and development are two times more likely to leave a job within the next 12 months.
So, uplifting your team. If you’re not lifting your team with growth, learning, and development, then you simply don’t guard to have a productive, engaged or loyal team.
So our fifth practice of successful middle managers is a consistent uplifting of the team.
With that, I want to really reinforce this point by talking about Coach Quaeda.
Now, this is a, you know, this is a great movie. The film is based on the true story of the Richmond High School basketball coach. Can caught up in the movie. It was played by Samuel L Jackson. And the movie Made Headlines in 19 99.
Now, I know it’s dated, OK, but it’s a classic. I think this is a real, real classic. Thanks, Stephanie, so your question, I’ll come to it.
Now, Coach Carter was the basketball coach in a high school in a fairly rough area of California, and the kids were into guns and drugs and crime.
The area was a, you know, not a high socioeconomic area, but the basketball team undefeated mm, but suddenly to everyone’s surprise, coach catia suspends the whole basketball team because the academic results were so poor.
Now everyone got upset. There was a big stink about this and even one of the players moms had said to the school and to coach, Carla, basketball is the only thing my boys have got.
Another parent was Banking on her son being Talen Spotted.
Their focus was not on education.
For a lot of people.
Basketball was the way out in two, for a lot of people. Basketball was seen as the only way out. And so even the educators were really against Coach Carter and his belief of the potential in the boys. So Coach Carter uplifted the boys in, in a unique way.
He said that the, he commanded that the boys colle each other sir, he called the boy Sir.
He commanded that respect for each other, for himself, and for themselves, There were consequences, if they didn’t turn up to practice on time.
Game days, the boys had to wear a shirt and tie and a jacket, or they wouldn’t play, and it wasn’t about spending a lot of money. It was, you know, you go down to Goodwill and pick up a second hand shirt, time coat.
But another way that coach Carter lifted the boys up was that he asked the players with their parents to sign a personal contract, and he called for a higher grade point average than what the school was even expecting.
And one of the things I found fascinating about the contract that he actually had the parents sign, because they were 10 points on the contract, of which, only one was about basketball.
All the rest were academic.
Now, a few boys walked out and didn’t sign the contract, so they didn’t fly. There was pushback, obviously, from the community, but he stuck to his absolute knowing that basketball was only a vehicle that uplifted the boys.
The result was exceptional Many of those young men being first in their family to finish high school, let alone any tertiary education went on to do amazing things.
And so, you know, I think it’s such an inspirational movie. Jennifer loves the movie. That’s good.
You know, my question to you then is, know, who’s the coach cutter in your life?
Who’s the teacher the boss, the mentor?
Who saw the potential and uplifted you Excuse me.
They showed you your potential. They showed you your value.
Know, and especially in moments where you may be struggling. Now, I will now run my own business as Middle Manager Leadership Development Expert known.
I have a range of coaches and mentors in my world and a little while ago now, one of my mentors and when I was having a little bit of a pity party and I couldn’t see my own potential, she said to me, You know, Sally, you do the work.
I’ll hold the belief.
Just stop talking about whether you can do it or not. Just do the work.
I’ll hold the belief. It’ll be sitting right here when you’re ready and didn’t take very long that from that advice, I got in and I did the work I needed to do and I slowly took back the belief, you know. So who’s your coach Carter?
How did they do that for you?
I want you to really ponder this.
Reflect on this.
What if you gave that to others pay that forward?
Who in your team is just waiting for you to uplift them?
It can be easy saying what the potential is that you see in that person. It could be just saying hello so that that person knows that, you see them.
Asking, how are you doing and being 100% present when you do so.
Gifting someone a book that you’ve read that has a powerful message and you can say that this had this message for me and I think it might be interesting for you, Could you mentor them?
invite them to shadow you so that they can learn and grow from you?
What training or development can you offer them?
When that happens, they will be more engaged.
The research has proven it.
More engaged is less cost, less turnover, more productive.
So let’s have a look at the questions. Stephanie, how do you encourage and motivate a new middle manager that you see great potential in this person, but they lack the confidence in themselves? Yet so confidence is down to three things: Fear of failure, fear of regret, or fear of rejection.
So ask them, you know, what specifically are they not confident about, and why?
And then when you can see, whether it’s about a it’s only three, it’s only three things, I know it’s so simple, yet, so complex, right?
So fear, failure, fear of rejection, fear of regret.
So, specificity on what they’re not confident about, and drill down, find out which of those three is which of those three it is?
And then you can then work on the strategy around, well, let’s make sure you don’t file it. Let’s put a plan in place. What are the actions?
If it’s regret, then what’s that regret going to be like? Let’s talk about what you need to do to make sure you don’t regret, fear, rejection, you know, then what to do, OK? So that’s how you deal with that one.
Hopefully that’s, that’s helpful. We don’t have a lot of time left.
Kathryn, as a manager of talent development, what kind of training should we create? That would be the most impactful, specifically to middle managers at a large public US corporation. Oh, my goodness.
That is a really big, big, big question.
Kathryn, I would start with doing an order, and I would actually start with doing an assessment, And they don’t have to be expensive assessments, but I would be looking at some sort of leadership effectiveness assessment. Happy to talk to you about that offline.
Reach out to me, because once you do an assessment, then you can see where the gaps are, and you’re actually investing the money the right way.
And it could be creating some self leadership programs and then you’re dealing, yay, general leadership. Then you’re getting into more strategic leadership and and stepping it that way. I know that’s a real, short answer but happy to chat more offline.
Adding to my watchlist good, Brenner, yeah, Coskata, current, past supervisor was amazing.
Not sure what that means. Jackie. OK. Unless that was Coach Carter, was a passive advisor, that’s awesome. And I’ve had, John says, I had to piece together my mentors from various sources. No one person, I guess on my own coach Carter, sometimes we have to be. Definitely.
Yeah, Jen, I’ve been blessed to have had three mentors in my career, my life now. It is time to pass it forward to others around me. I mentor young women in management. Awesome.
Mandy, that is set path, will, you do the work, I’ll hold to believe.
it was, it was one of those moments, it was actually a defining moment in my business, Mandy, because it was, it was, get out of your own head and get on with the work. My mom always encouraged, always encouraging, never judging, Oh, that’s so nice, Mary. Yeah. Great stories that are being integrated session. Oh. Thanks, Katy. Thank you. Appreciate that. And while there’s a lot coming in, so Jane, give them stretch projects that they don’t think they’re capable of and support them to ensure they are successful. Absolutely. Start with why? Get them to work out the plan. Challenge any assumptions.
Yeah, Julia, this reminds me of the commit to complete contract, We ask our first semester community college students to sign. So they graduate, having full resources of support available to them to ensure the success. Absolutely, Yeah.
And that, that commitment to complete, you know, when it’s done well, and I assume it is. When it’s done well, you get them to visualize what they’re going to be like.
And that’s linked to the legacy piece.
Yeah, Cool.
How can we reach out to you? I will show you that in just a moment. Thanks, Jennifer. Yeah. This is, Brenda says This is my first management position. Congratulations.
And each one of these habits will be my focus, to help my team perfect, don’t do them all at once.
Just start with values and work your way through. Don’t overwhelm yourself, I’m pretty sure you’re pretty busy. Shana, I cannot hear anything OK.
So this is being recorded so I’m sure Sarah can follow up with that DJ. I hope I’m saying that right anyone I come into contact with because I never know who God has put in my path to Uplift.
Well aren’t you coach Carter?
That’s fantastic. I love that, thank you.
You know, here’s my e-mail address. And if you want a few freebies place, just pop this into the subject line, five, MN, freebies. I’ll give away the chapters to my books, a white paper, and the Management Success Skills e-book, which is a very practical, self coaching book.
Plus weekly leadership and self leadership notes and inspiration and stories to share.
You know, I’ll leave that up on the screen when we just wrap this up here and NSA, when you’re grounded in your values, number one values, you know what you stand for, then when you’re clear about how and what you want to be known for, you can stay the course to achieve your Legacy number two as a leader.
Then the more self-aware you are, the better you can lead: number three, Self-aware.
The more you can purposefully inspire, collaborate, and influence the clearer and more confident you’ll be in expressing yourself so Communications number four.
And when you take every moment, big or small, to uplift others, number five, these can all come together as you’d being a middle manager, who’s perfectly positioned with so much value to you.
Thank you.
Wow, that was such a great session here that we had today, Sally, and it’s so many great comments coming through from our audience. So a clap for our audience as well. So thank you all for participating in today’s webinar. That does bring us to the end here.
There you go.
And you can make sure to e-mail Sally at for those freebies that she has for you. And today’s webinar was sponsored by HRDQstore, You can learn more about And make sure that you join me for next week’s webinar, More Turbulent Change. As well as checking out our new podcast HRDQ In Review, where we get to interview our presenters who join us on these webinars and hear a little bit more about them, as well as the content that they speak of during those events. So make sure to check that out, We will have a upcoming podcast with Sally in the near future. So stay on the e-mail list to get notified when that’s available. So, thank you, all for participating in today’s webinar, and happy training.

Listen to the podcast

In today’s discussion, we’re joined by the inspiring Sally Foley Lewis, a multi-award-winning global expert in leadership development, productivity, and self-leadership. Sally recently presented a webinar on “The Middle Matters: Five Habits of High Performing Middle Managers,” which received powerful positive feedback from attendees, resonating deeply with many. Throughout the conversation, we explore essential aspects of effective middle management and offer actionable insights and real-life examples to enhance soft-skills training within organizations. We’ll also discuss the transformative changes happening in the L&D space, the challenges and opportunities middle managers face in the evolving work environment, and how L&D professionals can adapt their methodologies to engage effectively. Join us as we delve into the key takeaways from the webinar, including the importance of self-awareness, collaboration, and purposeful inspiration in middle management. We’ll also address audience questions, such as how to discover personal values and ways to influence up the corporate ladder. Get ready to unlock the potential of your middle managers and empower your organization’s leadership growth.
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