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Stuck in the Middle: How to rally the troops when the people upstairs are making it difficult!

You may be in a middle management position, or you may even be on the front lines but still perceived as a leader to your peers. Your boss is laying it on you and your team good––bad attitude, discouraging comments, constant stream of bad news or even fits of rage.

How do you keep the other people on your team positive and productive when the hammer is dropping from above?

Unless you’re in the ultimate position of authority in your organization, you’ve got pressure from both sides. You’ve also got to manifest two distinct roles:

As leader your responsibility is to the people you serve who willingly follow you and trust in your leadership.

As manager, your responsibility is to the people you serve in your role as a follower.

When you’ve got a boss with a lousy attitude or a hair across some private part, these roles can be in conflict. That’s stressful and often very discouraging.

Can you really serve both? I’ll put it this way––your willingness and ability to do so can be a tremendous asset both to your organization, and to your own growth, development and advancement as a leader.

Many experts offer very clinical advice for dealing with this situation, and lots of that advice is very useful!

  1. Document the situation and any unpleasant or inappropriate interactions.

  2. Be sure to follow organization policy and adhere to any mandatory reporting requirements.

  3. Pay attention to complaints from subordinates and give them a fair hearing.

As usual I’ll focus on the human side of the issue rather than the process. I’m appealing to you as “leader” more than as “ma