The Middle Manager: the underrated role?

A few weeks ago, I read the article « Why middle managers are more valuable than ever » in MT Sprout. It made me reflect on my own experiences in this role and on the recent conversations I’ve had with some managers. Whether it’s been years or just recently, the feeling of balancing various interests remains constant: the board expects you to be loyal to the policy, while you also want to represent the interests of the employees. Following strategically and leading operationally, while you ‘must’ collaborate with fellow managers and their teams, ‘must’ achieve targets, and maintain customer satisfaction. This role, complex and unique, often does not receive the recognition it deserves within organizations.


However, insights from recent research emphasize how middle management plays a crucial role in successfully implementing strategies and navigating the ongoing changes in a rapidly evolving world. They form the bridge between senior management, which determines the strategic direction, and the employees at operational levels, who carry out the day-to-day tasks.

A unique position

In soccer or hockey, the midfield is the central point where the game is made and the action begins. They are the playmakers who make decisions and collaborate with both strikers and defenders. Middle management plays a similar role within an organization. They translate the vision and objectives of the organization into concrete actions, while anticipating external changes and challenges. Just as the midfield is essential for the success of a sports team, middle management is indispensable for the smooth functioning and achievement of goals within an organization. They form the central point where strategy, execution, and teamwork come together to create a winning formula.

Investing in their development

By harnessing the potential and unique position of middle management and investing in their development, these managers can navigate more effectively between different levels, optimize the performance of their team(s), and contribute to the overall success of the company.

EQ competencies essential for a middle manager:

Self-awareness helps them understand their own behavior, emotions, strengths, and weaknesses. And how they influence others, making them more effective in communicating and collaborating with their team and senior management.


Empathic ability to understand the perspectives and emotions of management, colleagues, and employees. This goes beyond simply agreeing. It means recognizing and anticipating the needs, concerns, and expectations of all parties.


Leading in change requires effectively facilitating change processes. Being able to overcome resistance and guide teams is vital for success.


In essence, middle management is like the beating heart of an organization, and their crucial role often goes unnoticed. Yet they are the ones who translate vision into action, keep teams together, and guide change. By strengthening middle management, we strengthen the core of our organizations to thrive in a rapidly changing world.


« What’s going wrong? »:

« Digging deeper: Why it’s not working? »: 

« Turning it around: Our gameplan »: 

Middle management often doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves within the organization, despite its crucial role.

Lack of recognition and investment in the development of middle managers’ emotional intelligence may hinder their effectiveness in navigating between different levels of the organization.

By empowering middle managers and enhancing their emotional intelligence competencies, we strengthen the core of our organizations and enable them to thrive in a changing world.

Let’s -walk the-talk….

Wendy van Nunen

Senior Associate, certified coach & sparring partner for organizations, leaders & teams, facilitator organisational constellations & systemic work