You are the archetypal middle manager. You want to have power and influence. You want to shape policy. You want to be recognised - no, you deserve to be recognised.
The problem is you just don't have the power or the authority to change anything and in any case, no one is listening. Time for a revolution!
The accepted wisdom is that power flows down from the top, that your CEO is the center of the universe, has all the ideas, experience and answers to make it happen.
The truly unfortunate thing is that in many organisations, your CEO believes that myth too. Nut their true role should be to leverage and focus your organisation's talent - that's you - in the right directions.
Consider if you will, the limitless power of the sun, the eons of light, energy and growth that it has freely provided. Now imagine yourself as a small child with a magnifying glass, focusing all that latent power of the Sun on a small blade of grass. It ignites; you are delighted. You think you have the power. But the power is only borrowed and you must apply wisely lest it erupt in widespread destruction.
What happens if we apply this model to the business world of the 21st century? Let us call it the Solar Management Principle.
You, the middle manager are the Sun, the power source, and it is your CEO's role to focus that power. It is symbiosis in action. Without your energy there is no power and no way to ignite the business.
Ok, now we understand the Solar Management Principle model, how do we put into practice?
The first thing to remember is that it is a scalable model. You must be prepared to harness the power of your team, to focus their energy onto your magnifying glass, so that the power you exert upwards is multiplied and concentrated. A Solar baton if you will.
The exchange must be as co-ordinated as any Olympic relay team if the Solar Baton is to be delivered and accepted. This is where your new role begins. This is where the revolution ignites, where you recognise the need for change, where you begin to recognise the power you have and learn to apply it wisely.
Your relay race will face expected hurdles, the most obvious ones being fear and apathy. Fear of change and fear of rejection will manifest itself as apathy. Your CEO isn't primed to ask for your help and you are conditioned not to give it.
These unprofitable behaviour patterns must be changed and as a fully paid up revolutionary it will be up to you. Are you ready? Think again of our relay team. You can't catch up to the person running ahead and then suggest your great idea for a Solar Baton. No, you must have the Solar Baton ready in hand as incontrovertible proof of your commitment, skill and understanding of what's needed to fly past the competition.
Develop your hand-over strategy ahead of time. Consider how fast they are running, the direction they are running, are you running at the correct speed and in the right direction to meet them? How big are their hands, where and when is the optimum exchange point? What kind of race is it? Is it a marathon or a sprint? How many other racers are in the competition and what do you know about them?
To make the Solar Baton exchange successful do you need aggression, subtlety, gentleness or innovation? The time to consider these things isn't at the point of exchange; you must take the responsibility to ensure a smooth hand-over with a well thought-out plan ahead of time.
If you are running with foresight, knowledge and commitment there are no questions, only answers.
If you execute your part of the race often and with skill, eventually you will have a waiting partner, trusting you, knowing you are making them look better, run faster and allowing them to defeat the competition time after time.
Your CEO today isn't actively ignoring you; he is just ignorant of your true value. It is up to you to educate him. Remember you are the power; the energy of the Sun and that is all the light you need.