Serve Up, Coach Down by Nathan Jamail [Book Summary – Review]

Are you leading a team? Plus, do you document to a person in a higher position? Then it means you are one of the middle workers. There are qualities and tactics you need to practice to become better at your job. 

Good middle management is adjuratory and exacting. Administrators in the middle are responsible for giving and taking directions. They should take care of their team and preserve the manager’s relevance. Their job is to inform the seniors about primary tasks.  

Plus, interpreting the goal of the company on the production floor for workers is their job. 

This review is full of inspirational and valuable suggestions and tactical insights to solve specific middle management problems. 

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Chapter 1 – Serving up implies believing the vision of your boss. 

Juanita is the middle-level manager who is about to make a massive error as a professional.

One of Juanita’s best group members has just left, and Juanita’s boss has chosen not to employ a substitute. Juanita’s workers feel overwhelmed now. She also took some of the responsibility, and she is proud of becoming a strong captain of the team. What is even more, Juanita wants the best for her colleagues. That’s why she is going to insist on the replacement of the departing employee by her boss. 

What is wrong with Julia’s method? Ah, she’s not serving up, as the author calls it.

Her boss has agreed that a small team would achieve the same outcome. But in this decision, Juanita has not shown confidence. She didn’t strengthen the caseload of her team or inspire colleagues to build a fresh workstream. She ignored her boss’s decision and refused to regularize the team. 

Julia believes that she does what is best for her job. But the reality is: she let the chance of giving her employees new challenging responsibilities slip by. While she can support her worker’s career growth, she chooses to listen to their concerns.

It’s not her job to express the team’s annoyance to the boss. Her task is to transmit the goal of the company to the team. If you are in the middle, strategizing isn’t your job. But it is your responsibility to make the plan bring into motion. 

Serving up, believing the vision of the company, implies embracing decisions with excitement and belief. And this helps you to perform your role with confidence, too. 

Since they associate serving up with butter somebody up, many middle managers are unwilling to serve. But there is a big difference. It is dishonest to suck up. A suck-up is a “yes-sir,” or a “yes-madam,” who only says what the managers want to hear. Why they do this? It was to progress their agenda. 

But serving doesn’t have an agenda. A team player is someone who serves and supports the company’s objectives and vision. 

For a middle manager, it is usual to support the decisions that they don’t fully understand or agree with them. But that support doesn’t necessarily be unconditional or uncritical. 

Chapter 2 – Serving your colleagues makes you, them, and your firm successful. 

Have you ever seen a tennis match? Players like Serena Williams and Roger Federer have insane serves for the game. But they don’t play the same service again and again. Because to win, you should mix things. So that your opponent would be ready against anything you would do.

The same thing is true for handling from the middle. Helping your current boss is not enough to serve. You should help other ways around which means you should consider serving your colleagues from the middle.

One of the largest challenges in the business sector that is so often mentioned is what occurs when teams work independently, fail to work together, and communicate with one another.” It’s almost as if every department is in a different silo that is sealed-off. Each part of the organization just looks after its values and goals; no one works for the benefit of the corporation itself.

You can solve this problem as a middle manager. It will happen when you serve out to your colleagues.

The serving-out method is the opposite of the silo mindset. In the silo, attitude is most likely to be selfish with looking out for your own. But while you serve out, it is all about considering how can you help others, what can you give and how would you make other’s tasks easier.

But, wait. Isn’t that risky? Wouldn’t other departments use you? Perhaps, not. Continue to read.

Here’s how the silo mindset can be broken down by the serving-out attitude. Let’s presume you operate the Department of Sales. And you worry about your colleagues in design every day. It’s like their only aim is to make things hard for you and your team workers.

Let’s try this. Reach out and serve out rather than just moaning.  Don’t stick to the leader of the design team. Ask her what you and your team can make for them. 

You might be able to change the business processes of your team in a way that helps designers significantly by being open to cooperation. And the other hand is likely to repeat after you’ve made the change. Even if their boss doesn’t instantly ask what she can do for you, you’ve already taken the first step: a channel of communication has been opened up. 

You have also proven that there is no silo mentality in your department. And this can serve as a guideline for a company culture of cooperation, where everyone works while serving up and get that help in return.

Chapter 3 – Split the power between your manager and your team equally. 

Charles is a middle manager who made himself invaluable to his boss. He supports and executes her strategic choices with commitment. 

But his team is far from being outstanding. Yes, they accomplish their assignments. But they don’t completely support the organization’s values, unlike Charles. They can’t blame Charles for their poor results. Or they can?   

The fact is even though Charles succeeds at serving up, if his team doesn’t succeed, then he’s just doing half of his work. 

Charles has faith in his boss and his business. But the members of his team don’t and that irritates him. What stops them from getting on board? Well, Charles never showed the team that he trusts in them. You put your time and effort into it when you trust in something. But the time and resources of Charles only ever moved upwards. He never instructed his squad. 

And why not? Because he always felt that coaching was patronizing. He’s an employed, professional man. To get out of their way and let them do their jobs, he trusts them enough. 

What Charles did not know is that great leadership is not patronizing. it would be aspiring and strengthening.

Take a look at the strategy of a sports coach to successfully coach your team. Begin with exercises, and integrate them into the everyday work of your team. For instance, make your peers spend a bit of time every day learning about the latest bundle of an accounting system or position sales pitches. 

And note, a soccer coach never just puts on practices and goes home. He puts in his resources and time, making an effort at these workouts to help players get improved. For your squad, you should do the same. 

Often, remember the things that football coaches never do. They rarely spend all their time with the lowest team member. Most of their energy, in reality, is directed towards their stars. In a way similar, you should coach. Put your energies into your biggest players, and then your team will see that your coaching is a bonus, not a punishment for badly done work. 

Your team needs great coaching from you. And from your manager, you should receive the same. Be straightforward and frank when you talk to your boss. Clarify to your colleagues what you’re doing and then tell your manager you’d want decent support. 

Chapter 4 – You can adapt to change even though you don’t completely comprehend it.

We all realize change is inevitable, but it can be difficult to cope with. It wouldn’t matter if it’s a major move, like adapting to a bigger city or beginning a new profession, or just a small adjustment-it can be difficult even to make the transition from coffee to tea. 

In the business sector, which is impacted by the endless chaos outside of the workplace, it’s no different. Things such as software, demographics, and economic forces never stop restructuring our companies. 

If they can keep up with the new, companies improve. If they can adapt to new ways of marketing, managers improve. 

There is a simple suggestion: embrace the change. For professional performance, this will help you prepare. But it can be a bit more difficult to bring this easy suggestion into action.

Work environment change does not always affect you as well. It could mean more stress, unforeseen issues, connections that are damaged. You might feel a need to question the different approaches. Don’t do that. 

Openness in the choice is fantastic, but if you don’t comprehend an actual decision, presume that more perspectives and details are available to senior managers than you do. Confide in their decision, and serve. 

If you’re in the middle, the “what” and why” issues don’t bother you. Deciding on the path of change is not your task. 

But you have a different role that is vitally valuable: you are introducing change. You are the one that figures out how change occurs. That doesn’t say that planned changes must never be questioned; it just means that the object of the questions should never be to prevent them. Try to understand them, instead.

By displaying leadership, instead of hesitation, coach your team through the transition. Let’s say your manager has determined that modern state-of-the-art sales software needs to be transformed for your team. For your squad, that requires a lot of work. Adapting to the current scheme will take time and patience, and people will moan and complain about it. 

But you’re not meant to be one of the mumblers. Trust the management’s decision. Your business wasn’t just changing direction on this new software to build extra tasks for you. The bosses have invested a lot of money, and they expect a return as more revenue, the higher efficiency, less time lost. 

Let that happen, anything they want to see. The formula for success is easy: make your team have the resources they need to adjust and lead. 

Chapter 5 – To overcome the information gap, middle managers are key. 

Knowledge is the power, but unless you put it into action.

For the modern workforce, the information gap, which is the difference between what employees know what they’re doing is a tremendous issue. 

Here’s how it works out generally. A modern, more effective structure is focused on senior management. Everybody receives training. For a week or two individuals submit their new experience, but no one keeps them to it and they quickly fall back into old patterns. It doesn’t matter if they are at the top, in the middle, or serving on the battlefield, it is unfortunate news for everybody.

However, there’s also a positive thing: if you’re in the middle, there’s a ton you can do to tackle this issue. 

There are two main reasons why new information could not be put into action by your team. Shortage willpower is the first one. Technical ability is second. It’s possible to coach both. However, the methods are different. 

If a lack of will is demonstrated by your squad, it shows they can do it, they just don’t have enough motivation. Perhaps they find that the old system offers good outcomes; they do not want to waste their time practicing the current format. It’s wrong either way.

So how do you deal with things like that? By setting the norm first. Even a top player turns up for training and runs drills on a professional team. Why he does that? He suspects, if he doesn’t, that he won’t be enough compared to the squad. That has been made clear by his coach. For your squad, you should set the very same expectations. There’s no room for them if they do not work and improve. Your clear goals will motivate better work. 

And if your team isn’t enough in skill and has no problem with willing? Will the tempo slow down? Simply transfer any assignments? Oh, no. Slackening the speed would not allow someone to learn. Keep the pace and tasks high, but do more coaching as well, much more. 

In your squad, develop both talent and will. Your team will have the ambition and the opportunity to carry their strategy into motion every time the managers suggest an idea.

Chapter 6 – Successful management of time is all about values. 

Did you hear of “middle child syndrome” before? Middle children are generally friendly to people because they have often had to reconcile between older and younger brothers and sisters. 

You can feel the same thing when you serve in the middle. You are pushed in various directions, and you want everyone to satisfy you. Managers, customers, heads of other teams, your squad. There’s more to do and such little time! 

And how do you get your duties on top and keep people completely happy? By adjusting your attitude. 

Middle managers have to focus, ruthlessly, to satisfy the requirements of the position. So how can you decide which duties should be at the top of that list of to-do tasks and which ones can be tackled afterward? Distinguishing the immediate from the important is the secret. 

Important work is proactive. It is based on removing issues before they emerge. Significant duties concentrate on long-term growth; they are structured to make a positive impact. They are meant to bring beneficial change.

On the other hand, an urgent job is reactive. Its emphasis is on solving issues that need attention right now such as talking to an unhappy customer or shading an operational issue. It doesn’t build you or expand the business to complete an immediate mission. 

Filling up with important work is simple for your to-do list. But finishing them also means that the essential items are overlooked by you.

So now you have figured out what is critical and immediate. But you need to put more on your list: the non-negotiable stuff, or the “must-dos.” 

Must-dos are activities such as counseling, providing input, and checking in with leadership. It’s easy to ignore them when you’re distracted, to delay that one-on-one, to postpone that training session. And it would be an error. These duties are at the heart of your work. Your professional achievement relies on how well you comply with them.

Fortunately, most must-dos are repetitive. So block out time in your calendar for all of them. Yes, even it is to check in on a customer for a five-minute telephone conversation!

How can you stop getting overburdened with all these pressures? The author suggests that you need to do three things: Know how to deal with your to-dos around your must-dos. Next, solve the essential tasks. And begin telling the immediate ones no. 

Eventually, you will work with consistency and transparency and achieve better outcomes. 

Chapter 7 – Reward the members of your team for the effort they make.

Which of the members of your team should receive the most loyalty from you? Most senior people? The most proficient? Most faithful? The one driving the most revenue, netting the most offers, earning the most pitches? 

The answer is not in those. Your allegiance should be with whoever is making the biggest commitment to the organization. The outcomes of the last half, last year’s numbers-they don’t get into the calculation.

Preferably, everybody on the team will regularly participate. How can you do this? All is about responsibility. Make it obvious that all members of the team are required to do their maximum and to achieve results. Continue through then. 

So often, middle managers claim that participation is necessary, but don’t behave as if it is significant. They keep newcomers on duty but stay away from the seniors. Who wants to monitor and control after all? But not keeping individuals responsible is doing a lot of harm to the company.

It is not that important how long the company has been with someone. “You may think, “Bill gave this company twenty years.” But this is just incorrect. Bill didn’t give anything unexpected. Bill has been paid for twenty years of work by this organization. He doesn’t qualify to remain in the squad if he does not participate.

Note, commitment is what it is. The outcomes she offers are meaningless if the highest sales manager cuts corners and arrives late. She doesn’t contribute to the full of her capabilities.

Besides that, maybe you’re struggling with the opposite result. A member of the team does their best, goes above and beyond, and thus does not bring success. You’ll be compelled, out of allegiance, to carry them on. Yet your faithfulness is misguided. By holding the person in power to which they are unfit, you do not serve them or the team. If they’re not willing to challenge, considering your coaching, find someone else to work with.

Don’t forget, your allegiance is both to the organization and your team while you’re serving up. Securing poor performers, unwilling to coach veterans, keeping people around because they gave their years to the organization -all of them are indications of disloyalty to your company.  You build and preserve a community where no one is encouraged to give their all.

Chapter 8 – If you play your hand correctly, the middle is a powerful stage. 

There’s a low image for middle management. It is also used as a place for pencil pushers, administrative officials, and individuals in the business world who do not possess much control or authority. 

Many do, of course, suit this image. However, the good news here!  Some of the best individuals in the industry are middle managers. What’s the concept of a middle manager, after all? It’s a specialist who reports to the higher positions and controls the positions under them. Some of the most powerful VPs, CFOs, and COOs in the company suit that description. 

You are not only a middle manager if you’ve perfected the skill of serving up and coaching down. You are one who operates from the middle.

Power is not related to the name. Somebody else may have a more glamorous job title at your office than you do on record, however, that doesn’t indicate you can’t exert just as much power and control in reality. 

Yes, most middle managers don’t make strong choices. But the only way to exercise professional control is not decision-making. We have found that in making decisions, power requires. And the way you do it sets the company’s route. What might be considerably more powerful than that?

You need to persuade your team, too, that it’s not enough to be sure of your influence. You’ve lost them if they question your power. That is why execute the determination of management as if they were your choices. s Don’t play the victim card and don’t split “us” and “them” into your manager and the organization. As long you keep saying, “They’ve agreed we need to…” or “They’re telling us…” you’ve decided to give up control.

As a result, note that you are ideally positioned in the company; both high-level leaders and frontline staff are open to you. You can be motivated to maintain this connection to yourself and to gain the strength that comes with it. Don’t, though. This sort of quick struggle for power is not a movement of lengthy power. 

Don’t forget, efficient middle managers, serve up. And you’re not only serving up but also across and down when you kindly share your connection. Doing this reveals just how comfortable you are in your authority and place. 

Serve Up, Coach Down. Nathan Jamail’s Mastering the Center and All Leadership Sides Book Review 

“Serve up, coach down.” If you are willing to manage from the middle, that should be your motto. Put your faith in upper management and your effort into improving the success of your team. Practice these two middle management elements, and soon you will develop your influence and power.

Even when there’s nothing to say, report! 

It takes continuity to sustain professional relationships. Make it your habit to check in with all your connections frequently, like your boss, your employees, and your customers. Just check-in, if you have nothing to say! The touching foundation means that you’re involved in the partnership.

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I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile:

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