Article: Middle Managers, Need Help?

You face unique challenges given your mid-level position in your organization. Discovering Leadership Dynamics can help you succeed.

How to become a stronger middle manager

By Anna Slaydon

Middle managers are never as well known as the presidents and CEOs of their companies. But keen business observers are correct to credit them with being “an employer’s most important leaders(opens in a new tab),” well suited to “initiate organizational change(opens in a new tab)” and “secretly the superheroes of the workplace(opens in a new tab).”

The BB&T Leadership Institute recognizes the vital role of this key group of leaders and has created a new leadership development program geared specifically toward your distinct needs: Discovering Leadership Dynamics.

The three-day program is designed for mid-level managers who have six or more years of work experience, responsibility for managing direct reports and a desire to use leadership development training to reach new career milestones. 

What the program covers and how middle managers benefit

Unlike Mastering Leadership Dynamics, which is targeted specifically to  CEOs, executives and senior leaders, Discovering Leadership Dynamics is an immersive, experiential program solely for mid-level leaders.

The program focuses on the first two blocks of The BB&T Leadership Institute leadership awareness model: 

  1. Self-awareness to lead yourself
  2. Interpersonal self-awareness to lead others

In Discovering Leadership Dynamics, managers like you will get the opportunity to better understand certain aspects of yourself, such as how your personal, long-held beliefs affect your behavior in the workplace, and how to become a conscious leader. Through our unique discovery process, participants will gain valuable knowledge and awareness that can be applied immediately when you return to work.

In addition, Discovering Leadership Dynamics will provide you with new tools, such as effective communication strategies, to use in your organization.

“Many middle managers have been running hard for a while and are busy leading a team and learning how to be effective managers on the go,” said Brittany Brown, who is a vice president at The BB&T Leadership Institute. “Participating in Discovering Leadership Dynamics will give you an opportunity to stop, reflect on your workplace experiences and learn great management tools and strategies and how to apply them at your business.”

Leading others: Creating an environment of success

Why is being a mid-level leader different than being a senior leader? One reason is that middle-level management frequently has to bridge conflicting needs. You are accountable to the leaders above you and answerable to the employees on your team.

An example of this quandary is when a middle manager receives a directive from her organization’s senior leaders that could represent a significant change for her team, explained Steve Swavely, Ph.D., senior vice president and corporate leadership consulting manager. The mid-level manager knows her team will be unhappy with the directive, but she needs the team to embrace it and successfully execute it.

"Discovering Leadership Dynamics helps managers like you negotiate such situations by developing the interpersonal self-awareness you need to understand your team and effectively communicate with them," said Swavely.

In addition to interpersonal self-awareness, middle-level management needs the skills to foster and sustain employee engagement. Discovering Leadership Dynamics also has a strong focus on this, according to Rosalind (Ros) Guerrie, senior vice president and educational leadership programs manager, who was instrumental in developing the program.

“Middle managers need to create an environment in which their direct reports can flourish and be excited about the work they do,” Guerrie said. “In Discovering Leadership Dynamics, we support our participants in learning strategies for how they can help their teams stay engaged.”

Leading yourself: Navigating leadership transitions

By turning to The BB&T Leadership Institute for multiple programs, an organization’s mid-level and senior leaders can become aligned on practices and learn to speak the same leadership language.

Furthermore, Discovering Leadership Dynamics sets the foundation for  participation in Mastering Leadership Dynamics as mid-level leaders advance in their careers and live out their leadership purpose. 

Discovering Leadership Dynamics will be available in early 2020. Middle managers will be able to register for the program later this year on The BB&T Leadership Institute website.

Discovering Leadership Dynamics is offered at The BB&T Leadership Institute campus in Greensboro, North Carolina, and can also be delivered exclusively for your organization at an offsite location. 

Take the next step

For more information about Discovering Leadership Dynamics, and other leadership development programs, please call 336-665-3300 or email us at

Author bio

Anna Slaydon is the sales and product delivery specialist at The BB&T Leadership Institute, where she is responsible for its brand and media strategy. She hosts The Leadership Institute’s video and Leadership Amplitude podcast productions, which focus on leadership development, team optimization, culture and related leadership topics. 

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