No organisation of more than 150 or so people has one single and unified culture (often referred to as "The Dunbar Rule"). The challenge becomes one of tight-loose leadership: allow local differences to flourish (for example the term "team" means something entirely different in Seoul than it does in Syracuse) while, at the same time, develop an overarching Meta culture that ensures common values, consistency, connection, collaboration, caring for the customer and an unrelenting commitment to the whole.
The group that binds everything together is the "middle managers". Moreover, they are the only group that can! And the straw that stirs the middle management drink is inspirational leadership, especially from the leaders who are expected to inspire the middle kingdom - leaders one level up! Leaders who inspire do four things extraordinarily well:
- Through imagery, symbolism, metaphor and story they make tomorrow come alive in the room today.
- In addition to agreed goals and scope of responsibility, they ensure that everyone on the team fully understand their role on the team.
- They see coaching not as a nice capability to have but as central to what it means to be a leader.
- They bring out the best in people and treat team members with dignity and respect. Always!
If the middle managers in your business are sitting on the sidelines … if the middle kingdom isn't fully in the game you don't have a strategy you have a problem.
Insights from "The 7 Questions Every CEO Should Ask About Culture".