Taking the step from leading staff to leading managers will to some extent always mean going from being a specialist to being a generalist. The initial challenge is often letting go of the security of a specialised role - a role that up until now has been an important part of your career - and starting to work through other people, staff as well as managers, in a much more pronounced way. As a middle manager, you need to handle what we call “the matrix complexity”, irrespective of whether the organization is set up as a matrix or not. By this we mean the need for leading and working in the spaces and releasing an organization's potential by means of increased cooperation across its various boundaries, between its units and departments as well as between its various functions and professions. Working in this way requires great understanding of an organization as a whole as well as a deep understanding of communication, managing change, and handling power and legitimacy. It also requires a great capacity for inspiring others to cooperate.
Middle managers need to be good at handling dynamic polarities like those between coordination and independence, the whole and specific aspects, groups and individuals, long-term and short-term, change and stability, etc. To achieve this, we ensure that development activities for middle managers lead to participants developing as strategists, managers, and leaders. An important aspect of this process involves getting participants to work on their own real challenges and dilemmas. We ensure that participants
- as strategists, develop their capacity for creating direction, for contributing to the strategic work, for converting strategies into operative goals and action plans, and for shifting focus from their immediate tasks to perceiving trends and changes in the external world, so that they are able to continuously adapt their activities to new needs and demands
- as managers, develop their capacity for creating added value, for increasing their skills in allocating resources for the development of activities, for directing and following up tasks, eliminating obstacles, and creating the necessary prerequisites for others to perform
- as leaders, develop their capacity to create meaning for themselves and for others, to increase their skills for consciously developing their company's work culture, and for motivating staff to achieve more at the same time as they develop their skills and capacity