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Serve Up, Coach Down

Mastering the Middle and Both Sides of Leadership

By Nathan Jamail
15-minute read
Audio available
Serve Up, Coach Down by Nathan Jamail

Serve Up, Coach Down (2018) is a corporate leadership guide for middle managers. It empowers workers to “master the middle” by sharing the strategies they need to effectively manage both their team and their boss.

  • Middle managers hungry to hone their leadership skills
  • Team leaders who want to inspire their staff to do great work
  • Employees aiming to get the most out of their professional relationships

Nathan Jamail is a management consultant, corporate coach, and former sales professional. Through his best-selling business books, workshops, and keynotes, Jamail shares his strategies for corporate success.

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Serve Up, Coach Down

Mastering the Middle and Both Sides of Leadership

By Nathan Jamail
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
Serve Up, Coach Down by Nathan Jamail
Synopsis

Serve Up, Coach Down (2018) is a corporate leadership guide for middle managers. It empowers workers to “master the middle” by sharing the strategies they need to effectively manage both their team and their boss.

Key idea 1 of 9

Serving up means trusting your boss’s vision.

Juanita is a middle manager, and she’s about to make a huge professional mistake.

One of the best members of Juanita’s team has just quit, and Juanita’s boss has decided not to hire a replacement. Now Juanita’s staff feel overworked. She has even been taking on some of the workload herself, and she’s proud of being a great team leader. What’s more, Juanita has her colleagues’ best interests at heart. That’s why she’s going to demand that her boss replace the departed employee. 

But what’s wrong with Juanita’s approach? Well, as the author puts it, she isn’t serving up.

The key message here is: Serving up means trusting your boss’s vision.

Juanita’s boss has decided a leaner team can deliver the same results. But Juanita hasn’t shown faith in this decision. She hasn’t consolidated her team’s workload or encouraged colleagues to develop new workflows. In short, she’s dismissed the logic of her boss’s decision and failed to streamline the team. 

Juanita thinks she’s acting in her team’s best interest. But what’s actually happening is this: she’s missing an opportunity to give her staff new challenges and more responsibilities. Instead of encouraging their professional development, she’s giving in to their complaints. 

It isn’t her job to relay the team’s frustration to the bosses. Her job is to translate the management’s vision to the team. If you’re in the middle, it’s not really up to you to strategize. But it is up to you to put strategy into action. 

Serving up – trusting the boss’s vision – means accepting decisions with enthusiasm and conviction. And this allows you to perform your role with conviction, too. 

Many middle managers are loath to serve up because they confuse serving up with sucking up. But there’s a huge difference. Sucking up is manipulative. A suck-up is a ‘yes-man’ – or a ‘yes-woman’ – who only ever says what they think people want to hear. Why do they do it? Usually to further their own agenda.

Serving up, on the other hand, has no agenda. Someone who serves up is a team player. This person supports the mission and objectives of the firm. 

For you as a middle manager, this can occasionally entail supporting decisions you don’t fully understand or agree with. But that support doesn’t need to be uncritical or unquestioning. 

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