Extremes or the Middle — Where is Your Attention?

What’s the worth of the quiet, steady majority?

Extremes are often useful to create distinction between choices. Stay or Leave? Keep it or give it up? Invest or walk away?  Lately, it feels like those that focus on extremes can alienate, create estrangement, isolation and even hostility.  Examples of negative extremes are everywhere like in government, politics and even the workforce.

Extremes Grab Attention 

I was speaking with my friend, a public relations professional in the UK.  She volunteered in the Press Room at the London 2012 Olympics. She was incredibly proud at how well the Brits had done hosting the Olympics and Paralympics. Over two-thirds of the staff were volunteers ranging from 18 to 70 years old.  She marveled at how well everyone worked together and were generous hosts, despite completely different skills, backgrounds and ethnicities.

On the very last day of the Paralympics (which she felt was more heartwarming and as well run as the Olympics), she said the press kept latching on to “what could be done better in Rio de Janerio?” with minimal mention of what was done well in London. It was clear the press was clearly going for extremes — and featuring mostly negatives despite an overwhelming successful Olympic and Paralympics.

Back stateside, we are being bombarded with the same thing in the Presidential Race.  The press is largely focused on extreme positions and as a result the negative.  Any “slip-up” by a candidate or the exceptional position that is different than the commonly held value of the masses gets constant news media attention.

Extreme Business

American Business is not that different. What catches most managers’ attention is the extreme performer — either superior or abysmal.

What would happen if we gave the middle of the Bell Curve a bit more attention and credit for pulling the weight, being the quiet constancy of business, the core morality of our communities, likely political choice of the majority, or even the faithful and loyal volunteers?

Celebrate the Middle!

“The Middle”are the people who find solutions for the well-being of the majority without asking for credit.  These are the persons that may not be rockets flares but shine steadily and consistently each day. “The Middle”are the ones you can rely on time and again.  Interestingly, this is the block of the workforce that often gets the majority of foundational and often repetitive work done.  How can we celebrate those, who cooperate and do not continue to feed the controversial extremes?

Tips for Supporting the Majority of the Middle

  • Acknowledge the production of the “Middle” as well as the exceptional performances
  • Value of their strong and steady daily, monthly, annual contribution
  • Honor the outliers, who lead the “Middle.” These are your performers who motivate and mentor for the steadfast performance of the whole team.
  • Reward team work, partnership, collaboration, and constancy — Do it often and loudly!

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What is the Middle doing for your company?

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3 comments

  1. Way to draw attention to the solid, hardworking “middle.”

    1. Thanks so much Michael!

    2. Michael – if you would ever like to talk about the teachings of Simon Sinek I’d be up for it. Thansk for the comments. Rebecca

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