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How to Raise Leaders as a Mid-Level Manager
Sean: Hey guys! Welcome back to the channel. I hope you’ve been well. This is your boy, Sean, from the Leadership Stack Podcast. And if you’re watching from YouTube, please don’t forget to hit the subscribe button. If you’re listening in from Spotify, please don’t forget to hit that follow button, because today we are going to be talking about how to raise up leaders if you are a mid-level manager.
Sean: Now, why is this a problem? Why is this a difficulty? You know the world today, we have a lot of managers. We do need them, because managers usually are people who maintain the status quo in a business, in an organization. They make sure that the KPIs are met, goals are hit that were set beforehand. They also make sure that we follow the strategic direction of the business.
Sean: Every business needs managers and every business also needs leaders. And if you are a manager, the thing is, you hold a position that is already good and that is already respected. And it is the best position for everyone that you’re handling or everyone that you’re managing to look up to you and say, “That is my leader.”
Sean: Now, how are you going to be raising other people who can lead? Because here’s the thing: If you want to move up the ladder, and from a mid-level manager, go up to higher management, upper management to the executive level, then you need successors. You’re going to need to train and raise up leaders, people, maybe even managers at the same time to replace your current position.
Sean: Unless you’re able to do that, it’s going to be difficult for you to climb up the ladder further, because the upper management is going to look at you and say, “Well, who’s going to take your place?” So you need to learn how to raise up leaders among the people that you lead and among the people that you manage, and this is how we’re going to do that. There’s going to be five points to this, no more than. We’ll stick to that.
Sean: The first one is: Lead from the front, do not manage from behind. A lot of managers what they do is they bark orders, they delegate, and that’s pretty much it. They look for the results and when the results are not there, they get mad, they get irritated, they get angry, they look for the results and treat people as if they’re just there to produce output.
Sean: A lot of people don’t really give their respect and trust to managers like these. Yes, they might produce the results because their job dictates that they have to, their job demands it, their managers demand it so they might produce those results, but guess what? They’re not going to give you their trust, which is the most important thing for any good working relationship.
Sean: If you want to raise leaders, they have to trust you. And if you’re just barking orders from behind, if you’re just managing people from behind, people won’t trust you much.
Sean: The difference between managing from behind versus leading from the front is that people see that you are taking charge and you are actually doing the work that needs to be done. You’re actually good at it and you help them do the work as well, which ties us to our second point, which is: Serving others is a necessity.
Sean: As a mid-level manager, people will be able to see if you are a good leader or not, and they will be inspired to be like you or not if you serve them. What do I mean by serving? This doesn’t mean that you’re subservient to them, that you just keep saying yes, as you just keep allowing them to do certain things that you may not be completely agreeable with, or certain things that are not really agreeable with your company’s employee handbook. That’s not what I mean.
Sean: What I mean by serving them is you have to serve them when they do something wrong, you have to ask them to clean up their act, you have to be there and coach them and tell them, “Why did you do this? How can we make it better? How can they help you there in this area? How can the company provide the resources for you so that you’re able to do the work faster in a better way?” That is what I mean by serving them.
Sean: You have to support them, you have to make sure they are equipped well to do the work and you have to be there whenever they have questions, when they have concerns, when they face roadblocks in their work. That is serving them.
Sean: Don’t just say, “Figure it out on your own.” Don’t just say, “It’s your job to do this, do it. I don’t really care how you do it. Just do it.” Those things are not really encouraging. You have to be there and make sure that you also are part of the solution. Serve your people. That’s how you earn their trust and their respect. Lead from the front, don’t manage from behind and serve others.
Sean: There is a story in the American Civil War. There is a general who commissioned the major of an army and says, “I want you leading the charge tomorrow, because everyone else will see you leading the charge and they will be encouraged and inspired to do so and retake that hill.”
Sean: There were big guns, gatling guns, machine guns in that hill pointing down at them. The situation looked very bleak, as if they could really never take the hill. But the Major mustered the courage to do so and led the charge from the front. Everyone rallied behind him.
Sean: Of course, leading from the front as a major, that is the most dangerous thing you can do, because again there are machine guns, gatling guns that are pointed down at them. He could easily have been torn to pieces, but he did so and everyone rallied behind them and they took the hill and conquered that area.
Sean: And that is a perfect picture for our lesson today, being a mid-level manager and yet you’re leading from the front and you’re serving everyone who is following you.
Sean: Our third point for today is: You have to be intentional about growth. A lot of mid-level managers and a lot of managers at large are comfortable with where they are, and so growth goes to the backburner, it doesn’t become a priority.
Sean: They don’t read books anymore, they don’t listen to podcasts, they don’t go to seminars, webinars, they don’t get mentors anymore, because it might be the life that they’ve ever thought of living already.
Sean: They’re comfortable. They go home, they have food. They’re comfortable with their entertainment already. They’re comfortable with the time that they check-in. They’re comfortable with their relationships in the office. They don’t want to stretch things.
Sean: You see, comfort is going to be the antithesis of growth. Notice that during the times when you’re comfortable, those are the times when growth is the least likely to happen. You will not be able to grow and stretch yourself because you’re happy with the status quo. When you’re happy with the status quo, you will want to stay in the status quo, you’re not going to want to grow anymore.
Sean: And so a lot of mid-level managers, this is the thing that is blocking and that is choking you from raising up leaders, because you cannot give what you don’t have. If you’re not growing, how can you pour into the lives of others and also help them to grow?
Sean: You cannot, because you yourself are stale. You’re like a reservoir of water where water flows in but it doesn’t ever go out, it doesn’t flow through you, and what happens is the water becomes stagnant. You become a marsh, it becomes stinky, it becomes muddy. No one wants to swim there.
Sean: Becoming a reservoir instead of becoming a river where water is flowing through you and you’re sharing it with the rest of the other people, your colleagues in the office, there’s a huge difference.
Sean: When you’re a river, you’re full of life. People are going to be more encouraged to swim there in a river because the water is clean, it’s alive. We call it living water. So the river is a picture of growth. You’ve got something pouring into you, so you have a lot to give out from you.
Sean: While being a reservoir, usually there’s only trickles of water coming in you, there’s only trickles coming in so you are hesitant to give out and thus, you become a reservoir. You have to be intentional about growth, because there has to be a pouring into you so that you can pour out to others. If you want to raise leaders, you got to make sure you yourself keep growing.
Sean: The next point, the fourth point we have today is: You have to tie up leadership in your daily agenda, whether in your meetings, whether in the work itself, whether in your one-on-one coaching, whether in your evaluations with your people, you have to tie up leadership in your agendas.
Sean: How you do that is you teach people what you know and learned about leadership. That comes from our third point. If you’re growing, you’re learning, you get to know new things. New things pour into your life. Now you can teach it and share it with other people.
Sean: Because you believe that it can create value in other people so much, you just can’t help but share that thing with other people in your life, just like how, after you have watched a really good movie, you can’t help but talk about it and share it with other people, in spite of not being incentivized to doing so.
Sean: And lastly, the fifth point today is: Keep a keen eye, keen eye or ears or keep an open mind about your potential leaders. You have to scout these potential leaders that will be replacing you some day.
Sean: One of my mentors, John Maxwell, I’m part of the John Maxwell team. He says, “There is no success without a successor.” That is 100% true, and there are times when people would leave. In SEO Hacker, that has happened and there are no successors.
Sean: And how I, as a CEO, see that is that person who left, whether they resigned or they want to move up the ladder, that person was not responsible and has a lot of growing to do in his or her life because they left without a successor and there was no success in the position that they held in SEO Hacker.
Sean: That happens in all businesses and in all companies. But that’s not going to happen to you because you’re tuned in here right now. So scout for people, keep an open eye, keep an open ear. Make sure you’re always intentional about who has the potential to grow and become a leader and lead in your stead and manage in your stead.
Sean: And that’s going to be leading me to my challenge for you, especially those who are mid-level managers or upper-level managers. Write down three names. Keep it between you and your spouse, you and your family, or keep it to yourself. Write down three names of people you think have good potential to become leaders and pour into their lives.
Sean: Be intentional about your growth so that you can grow them. Be intentional about serving them, asking them how they are, how you can help them, how you can equip them, how they can grow, how the company can provide resources for them to grow as well. You have to be intentional about this.
Sean: Now some of them might say, “That’s not for me.” That’s okay. You have to keep on encouraging these people. Creating leaders is tough. If it wasn’t, we have a lot more leaders in our world today, but we do not have enough leaders. That is the truth.
Sean: And that is why we are doing this, and it would help so much if you hit that subscribe button, if you hit that like button as well and hit the bell icon so that you can be alerted every time we have a new video coming out.
Sean: I hope that you learned in this short and quick episode about how mid-level managers, or maybe even upper-level managers, can raise up leaders, and if you are one of those, I hope you’re going to be able to tune in to the next episode after this and I’ll see you there.