Any wise CEO knows that their overall success lies in empowering frontline leaders. In doing so, they gain a real-time connection to every aspect of internal and external operations, a pertinent need today as the speed of change continues to outpace the capacity to learn it. They also know that this vested frontline coverage will liberate them from the granular day-to-day minutiae that often dominate their time, enabling them to focus on the bigger picture for their company.
Frontline managers are the primary face of leadership for the majority of your workforce. They may only be in their first or second role overseeing teams—but they run the lion’s share of core activities in the company and directly affect customer interactions. As a result, they have an enormous impact on productivity, employee engagement, attrition, and customer satisfaction in your company. They also serve as your talent pipeline for senior leadership roles.
Many leaders already understand the importance of frontline management in their company’s day-to-day performance, and how instrumental they are in keeping things running smoothly and efficiently. But are executives and senior leaders aware that these frontline managers are the absolute linchpin to their organization’s transformation, and ultimately steer how quickly you should innovate and where? Read on to learn more about how frontline leaders are your company’s very own secret weapon in innovation and transformation.
They have the ability to engage, shape and mobilize your employees to enact change.
It’s been estimated that frontline leaders typically comprise 50-60% of an organization’s management division, and directly supervise up to 80% of the workforce. They’re the boots on the ground translating the organization’s strategy to the rank and file, and motivating individuals to make sure it gets implemented correctly. By providing intentional feedback to their teams on both areas for improvement and areas of excellence, frontline managers provide employees with tailored direction and create clearer understandings of their roles — which in turn motivates employees to exceed expectations or put in the extra effort.
Additionally, frontline managers’ feelings toward senior management and the company holistically influence how they will lead their workforce. When they are engaged and energized, that directly flows through to employees — resulting in an amped-up, aligned workforce. Successful frontline leaders will then draw out a discretionary effort from a critical horde of people that they have developed, who can see the longview, and who want to enact meaningful change.
Their finger is on the pulse – but isn’t trigger-happy
Day in, day out, frontline managers are at the center of everything that’s going on within the company and markets. They’re out in the field talking to your customers and prospects. They’re making negotiations with your vendors. They’re strategizing how to make your partnerships work for you. They’re the first to see how your products are being received in the market and the first to know what your competitors are doing differently. Because of this, they know when it’s time to move on or move forward.
Through their bumpy road to transformation, frontline leaders gain an agile and adaptive mindset that enables them to juggle risk and opportunity. They are able to utilize their unique expertise and dive deep into the actions that will create accelerated transformation, while also retaining a discretionary portion of “business as usual” to help keep the horizon of the business in view — whether it be the current mainstream, or emerging and innovative.
They keep CEOs and Senior Leadership on their toes
Frontline leaders represent an integral feedback loop that allows the CEO to stay informed of the latest developments in the business. When CEOs foster easy, open communication with their frontline managers, they become more able to anticipate unplanned developments and quickly respond to them.
A company’s frontline employees know the business best. They intimately know what customers say they want, and in turn, inform frontline management of those needs as well as their own. By crowdsourcing frontline employee ideas (also sometimes referred to as intrapreneurship) frontline leaders take direct responsibility for turning an idea into a new product or service — bringing entrepreneurial thinking and skills within the structure of your organization.
By utilizing existing frameworks and resources in a bottom-up approach, this intrapreneurship usually leads to initiatives that advance the wider company and can have a massive influence on
a company’s operations, too.