Leading from the front or leading from the middle—where is the real power?

Executive Summary

Have you ever taken the opportunity to remind your followers who the boss is? How about adopting your own preferred strategy rather than trying a group recommendation? Executive Coach Marsha Egan provided those two examples—and others—of leading from the front. A better strategy is the "let's go" style of management she calls "leading from the middle," she writes, explaining the differences in the two styles with descriptions of the differing day-to-day routines of the managers who practice them.

Like day needs night, Romeo needs Juliet and bacon needs eggs, so do leaders need followers. However, these great partnerships are examples of symbiosis, and followers need leaders every bit as much as their leaders need them.

From a “mom and pop” store to the greatest multinational corporation, there is an organizational structure that anoints its leaders. The structure provides power to those at the top by virtue of their position, and that power and position are recognized by everyone within the organization.

Bosses already hold the “power of the paycheck.” They have the power to fire someone, and they make decisions on promotions, raises and opportunities. For these reasons, any counsel from the boss, positive or negative, carries a great deal of weight in the mind of the employee.

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