Mid-level managers rarely have strategic objectives, tactical goals, and autonomy handed to them. Mid-level managers should collaborate with executive management to create these conditions.

To be successful, mid-level managers need to engage executive management proactively and create the conditions.

Tactical Decisions are Needed, Now

In an era of fierce competition and rapidly evolving business conditions, management at the tactical level needs to be responsive. The proliferation of Agile & Lean methodologies indicate the acceptance of the need to respond to continuous feedback and changing conditions. The rise of companies like Toyota are held as inspirational stories to encourage this practice.

Besides just responding, management is about getting stuff done. And by stuff we mean important stuff.

Management was, is, and always will be the same thing: The art of getting things done. And to get things done, managers must act themselves and mobilize collective action on the part of others.
R.G. Eccles, N. Nohria, P. 32. Beyond the hype. Harvard Business School Press, 1992.

Mid-level managers are constantly barraged by problems every day. There is never a lack of challenges to address. Managers need to prioritize those decisions that will best impact the business. They need to be a force multiplier, making decisions that benefit bottom line. They need to think strategic and tactical.

Tactics are the Province of the Mid-Level Manager

Tactical decision making is the province of the mid-level manager (MLM — managers from two levels below the CEO down to the line managers). Mid-level managers oversee teams of doers getting stuff done. The effective mid-level manager:

  1. Collaborates with executive management to know and understand the big picture (strategic objectives)
  2. Identifies tactical goals that allow them to separate the trees from the forest
  3. Has clear and direct authority to execute

Collaborating with Executive Management

Mid-level managers rarely have strategic objectives, tactical goals, and autonomy handed to them. Mid-level managers need to collaborate with executive management in order to create these conditions. 

In a followup post, I will discuss some of the frameworks and artifacts that help create the conditions for effective tactical management, including:

  • Triple-A Leadership Model
  • A3 Thinking
  • Portfolio Planning