Posted by Amy Bybee on April 21, 2016
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The client is king.

It’s one of those mantras in business that most middle managers accept without question, so building consensus around it is relatively straightforward. Yet, not-all-is-well in most kingdoms, particularly when discussion of organizational change is on the table (round or not). Internal dissent often builds in the minds and actions of those who feel disengaged by the process. Some continue to go it alone as they have always done. Others group-up the best they can. The rest just plod along … reluctantly.

End of story, right?

Well, not exactly. Yet, that’s how it goes when middle managers DON’T have business acumen. It’s a common mistake by omission, but it is easily correctable, given the knowledge that BA development and training can help avoid the shortcomings of routine ‘by-the-numbers’ thinking.

Here are three plain truths to keep in mind:

  1. Managers who run a tight ship can, sometimes, run it into the ground. Being unable to see beyond their own closed quarters can lead some middle managers to err on the side of caution, literally! In their efforts to protect the status quo, they often let competitive opportunities slip by if it means making waves to pursue them. That’s not the kind of anchor any company wants holding it back.
  2. Managers who work in broader contexts can fix what’s broken before it breaks. Empowered with business acumen, middle managers naturally improve their command over and knowledge of financial considerations. By decree, they can better link their own departmental goals with those of the larger organization – factors which drive the ongoing effectiveness of new processes, systems and procedures – but often remain unknown to those outside the corner offices.
  3. Managers who ‘do what it takes’ only do what is expected. Don’t underestimate it. With a deeper understanding of business acumen, the best middle managers not only “get” the challenges of their staff members, they go beyond just sympathizing to provide guidance that helps their direct reports go beyond the parameters of their job descriptions.

There is an old adage in the business world that says the moment you win a client is the day you start to lose it. The key takeaway is that far too many middle managers—even the most effective ones—understand the former to perfection, but are at a complete loss with the latter.

That’s precisely because the latter involves a thorough understanding of business acumen. In the absence of it, key individuals make decisions on gut instinct rather than intellectual reasoning—a trait reflected in knee-jerk reactions and poorly conceived directives to front-end representatives.

The real “kings” of your organization won’t stand for it.

Nor should you.

Topics: Business Acumen