Summary of Serve Up, Coach Down

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  • Overview
  • Concrete Examples
  • For Beginners


Nathan Jamail says that since 1970 when “servant leadership” appeared, many mid-managers have misinterpreted it to mean coddling your employees. That’s not the idea, he contends. Instead, your staffers need you to treat them well, coach them and hold them accountable, while also working in close alignment with your boss. Jamail may have created a straw-dog definition of servant leadership (as in, those who lead are subservient) instead of a true one (those who lead also serve) just to make his point about the middle manager’s many challenges, but his advice on how managers can develop themselves is spot on.

About the Author

Business coach Nathan Jamail writes on leadership, selling and building teams.



“Leaders in the middle” direct their teams and report to their bosses.

Mid-level managers have it tough. They must lead others and answer to the boss who leads them. They must get their teams to work hard to achieve their goals. Then they must make sure their boss approves of the team’s actions. Leaders in the middle have the task of eliciting top productivity and output from the people they lead. They coach their employees to become increasingly adept and to accomplish more. Middle managers strive to gain the full support of those who report to them and of those to whom they report. 

Some managers inadvertently throw away their power by misinterpreting servant leadership to mean coddling employees instead of leading them.

Some middle managers believe they’re in a weak position. They contend that everyone in their organization understands that the top bosses make the “real decisions.” In their own minds, the middle managers have no power. And for those with such a negative mind-set, events often prove them right. They don’t take ownership of their power, ...

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