LMA® for Middle Managers

When a leadership team creates its first Accountability Chart, they start by identifying the major functions of the business. Then they list the roles for each seat at the leadership team level. At this point, I introduce them to the concept of LMA (lead, manage, and hold people accountable) for each leadership position. Each leadership seat should have LMA first in the list of roles because it’s the most important aspect of the position. Most members of the leadership teams I work with understand this rather quickly. But I’ve found that – even as their businesses get stronger – they also need to focus on LMA for middle managers.

Beyond Focus on Leadership Team Members

Of course, creating a company’s vision and solidifying core values comes from the top. With their leadership team, the Visionary will complete the Vision/Traction Organizer™ (V/TO™) early in their EOS® journey. Yet, learning how to effectively “LMA,” a team should cascade down to every people leader in an organization.

During annual sessions, more and more people, especially from businesses experiencing rapid (or exponential) growth, have raised the issue of unprepared middle managers.

How does this happen? Usually, a technically proficient front-line employee will receive a promotion to team lead or manager. They may have never led a team before and find themselves completely unprepared for this duty without proper training.

These new leaders often have no idea how to run a meeting, provide direct feedback, drive improved profitability and cash flow, or conduct performance reviews. New managers may even have to learn new behaviors as they supervise people who used to be their peers.

Learning to traverse these relationships while being respectful and helpful takes time and proper guidance. For most, it won’t come naturally. For the greater good of the organization, the leadership team should ensure middle managers receive the training they need for success.

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Overcoming the Peter Principle

Dr. Laurence J. Peter, a Canadian educational scholar and sociologist, presented the Peter Principle in his 1968 book.

The Peter Principle states that employees will rise through an organization’s hierarchy via promotions until they reach their level of incompetence. Following this observation, eventually, every position will be held by employees who are incompetent to fulfill their job duties. Employees who fail to develop competency for these duties will no longer receive promotions. They also stunt the next generation of competent leaders. In short, they get stuck and risk leading their entire team into getting stuck too.

Organizations face serious consequences for accepting the Peter Principle, beginning with poor leadership skills in the new manager. But it doesn’t end there. The trickle-down effects often result in more mistakes, decreased production and quality, and poor employee morale.

However, managers who learn the necessary skills and develop competencies in leading people become more effective leaders. Those leaders drive more engagement and higher standards on their teams. Overcoming the Peter Principle can unlock further employee potential and open opportunities for future promotions as well.

Leadership teams can mentor and support middle managers by reaching out and teaching them how to be great bosses. Creating a strong development program reinforces company culture and creates the perfect feeder system for succession planning in higher roles.

If you lead people in your organization, have you properly trained managers who report to you on How to Be a Great Boss? If you’re rolling out EOS throughout your company, consider conducting a half-day mid-managers session or a How to Be a Great Boss Workshop to develop rising leaders. These sessions can help ensure every people leader in your organization understands and follows EOS principles with their teams.

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