By Morag Barrett
Today I’m so excited to share what I learned from Scott Mautz, award-winning, best-selling author of Leading from the Middle: A Playbook for Managers to Influence Up, Down and Across the Organization. Scott is also a successful keynote speaker and veteran of Procter & Gamble where he successfully ran several of the company's largest multi-billion dollar businesses. When he’s not writing or executing his entrepreneurial spirit, he’s a faculty member at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business for Executive Education.
From Fossils to Business
Scott hasn’t always been focused on business--at first, it was dinosaur bones. He remembers as a child he wanted to be an anthropologist, one that collects fossils and decides what dinosaurs are named. It wasn’t until college that Scott’s burgeoning love of marketing and business was stoked by taking on different leadership positions on campus. He understood that he came naturally to leading and wanted to focus on leading from the heart; leading how he wanted to be led. Eventually he had the opportunity to intern with Procter & Gamble, a leadership manufacturing giant, and they recruited him right out of Indiana University. Since then he’s been hooked on leadership.
The Key To Good Leadership? “Relaxed Intensity”
Two words: “relaxed intensity”. A phrase coined by Scott himself, “relaxed intensity” is his version of "work hard, play hard." A leader is employing “relaxed intensity” when they create an environment that allows employees to be at ease, have fun, and show that they’re more than their work--while keeping a team focused on the company’s overall goals. The first step in achieving this leadership style is to stop trying to fulfill the cookie cutter, corporate leading style that so many leaders try to emulate. Once leaders start focusing on fitting that mold, trying to get a promotion, trying to get a corner office, trying to be what their bosses think they should be, that mentality then flows down the ranks into the people they oversee--the waterfall effect--and everyone starts to lose themselves. However, when leaders are willing to be authentic first, be vulnerable and open, admit what they don’t know, and surround themselves with experts, that’s when leaders take a step closer to “relaxed intensity”, and that’s when we start to create a purity of focus that’s based in authenticity and not based in chasing approval.
Why the Middle Manager?
In Scott’s experience, the middle managers, the ones that are a boss and have a boss, must lead from the messy middle of the organization to be able to do their job. They’re at the intersection of horizontal and vertical information flow in their company, which means they have to manage their boss, their boss’s boss, and the people that report to them, while dealing with the influence of peers whom they have no formal authority over. All of this creates very unique problems that middle managers have to solve, and Scott noticed a dearth of books specifically designed for the folks in the middle.
The Middle Manager Challenges
Scott’s book goes layer upon layer of how middle managers produce the results their company needs. Readers will learn the unique issues and challenges that a middle manager faces, many of which they may find surprising. The book contains priceless tools and resources to aid a middle manager, including step-by-step details on “managing up the staircase”, a phrase Scott coined to describe the best ways to lead up to your boss, lead down to your employees, and influence your peers. Readers will also learn about the top challenge of the middle manager, micro switching, and how to handle the overwhelming workload from all directions.
Freebies for People First! Listeners (and Readers!)
Fans of People First! can go to ScottMautz.com/freetools(linked below), for a free 30-page companion workbook that goes along with Scott’s book, Leading from the Middle. The workbook contains over 80 questions to help a reader engage deeper with the Leading From the Middle material.
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