The role of the middle manager in organizations is evolving. As organizations shift from strictly hierarchical structures to ones that are increasingly horizontal and interconnected through team-based collaborations, middle managers are being asked to assume more leadership responsibilities in addition to their traditional management duties. While there is agreement that both leadership and management skills are required for organizations to be successful, there is limited information on the specific skills that are required to both manage and lead from the middle. Mid-level managers who successfully develop both skill sets are well positioned for future leadership positions. Preparing middle managers for senior level responsibility is of particular importance to non-profit organizations which are currently facing a significant deficit in the leadership pipeline. To fully develop their human capital, senior level executives in non-profit organizations need to have a good understanding of the management and leadership skills they desire in their middle managers. The purpose of this study was to explore, with senior level executives in non-profit organizations, the management and leadership skills they value in their middle managers. The study was designed using the Delphi Method approach of identification, shared evaluation and re-evaluation, and finally consensus among the executives, to determine the most desired and essential management and leadership skills. At the conclusion of the process, 11 senior level executives identified 11 management and leadership skills they believe are essential for effective mid-level management. 4 management skills were considered to be critical: (a) focused on the mission, (b) organized, (c) communication, and (d) accountability. 7 leadership skills were identified as essential: (a) authenticity, (b) promotes healthy organizational culture, (c) values human capital, (d) takes responsibility, (e) creates alignment, (f) provides senior level support, and (g) relationship building. Recognizing that organizations are stronger and healthier when both skill sets are present, the findings in this study may be used to identify current strengths and weaknesses within the management structure of a non-profit organizations so that training and hiring adjustments can be made, and to create training programs to better prepare mid-level managers for future executive positions in order to build a strong leadership pipeline.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Middle managers; Leadership

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Rhodes, Kent;