Every Company's Secret Weapon: Effective Leadership

Managerial leadership is crucial for business performance

Every Company’s Secret Weapon: Effective Managers

Frontline leadership is essential for business success. Serving as a conduit between frontline employees and the executive suite, frontline managers fulfill their operational responsibilities even as they filter, interpret and report–both up and down the corporate ladder. Despite their important role, only 50% of organizations track and develop their frontline leaders.

Today, the contributions of frontline managers are varied, as they must motivate employees, bolster morale, ensure productivity, promote the brand, identify and manage risks, and embrace innovation in the face of disruptive business models.

A Harvard Business Review (HBR) survey of 610 leaders from global companies indicated that frontline managers make a vital impact and play a fundamental role in achieving business outcomes.3 The following table illustrates the percentage of survey respondents who rated frontline managers’ role as important in five key areas of business performance:

Achieving High Customer Satisfaction 78%
Reaching Business Goals 77%
Achieving High Level of Productivity 76%
Achieving High Employee Engagement 73%
Contributing to Effective Communications 70%

In addition, frontline leaders feel the pressure of demographic shifts in the workforce, including the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation and the growth of Millennial workers to majority status in 2016.4

The role of a frontline manager has moved from overseer to coach, with more substantial people duties as well as administrative accountabilities.

Are they ready?

Nearly 60% of frontline managers didn’t receive any training before stepping into a leadership role.5 Moreover, the HBR survey revealed that only 12% of organizations currently provide adequate frontline manager training and development.6

Are you ready?

Unfortunately, 69% of training executives admit that senior leaders do not see a strong link between effective manager training and business performance.7 The challenge lies in recognizing the alignment of enterprise strategy and frontline leadership responsibility.

At best-practice companies, 60%–70% of a frontline manager’s time is allocated to walking the floor, coaching employees, providing feedback and problem solving.8 The role of a frontline manager has moved from overseer to coach, with more substantial people duties as well as administrative accountabilities.9 Companies would do well to invest in management training to equip and enable frontline leadership to drive performance and business results.


Learn More

Learn more about frontline leadership development at LeadershipACE.com.

About Apollo Education Group

Apollo Education Group offers a full range of employee education and talent management services to help companies build and sustain a future-ready workforce. With deep industry expertise and a focus on educational innovation, we use our global education network and the most advanced learning technologies to design and deliver cost-effective, scalable, and customizable learning solutions for corporations worldwide. Learn more.


1 K. Townsend & A. Kellner. (2015). Managing the Front-line Manager. In Handbook of Research on Managing Managers (pp. 104–119). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291830571_Managing_Frontline_Managers

2 UNC Executive Development & Human Capital Institute. (2014). UNC Leadership Survey 2014: How to Accelerate Leadership Development. http://www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/~/media/Files/documents/executive-development/2014%20leadership%20survey%20paper_final.pdf

3 Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. (2014). Frontline Managers: Are They Given the Leadership Tools to Succeed? https://hbr.org/resources/pdfs/tools/Halogen_Report_June2014.pdf

4 Pew Research Center. (2015). Millennials Surpass Gen Xers as the Largest Generation in U.S. Labor Force. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/11/millennials-surpass-gen-xers-as-the-largest-generation-in-u-s-labor-force/

5 CareerBuilder. (2011). More Than One-Quarter of Managers Said They Weren’t Ready to Lead When They Began Managing Others, Finds New CareerBuilder Survey. [Press release, March 28, 2011]. http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?id=pr626&sd=3%2F28%2F2011&ed=12%2F31%2F2011

6 Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. (2014). Frontline Managers: Are They Given the Leadership Tools to Succeed? https://hbr.org/resources/pdfs/tools/Halogen_Report_June2014.pdf

7 Root Inc. (2015). America’s Workforce: A Revealing Study of Corporate America’s Most Neglected Employee. https://www.rootinc.com/pdfs/campaign/Americas-Workforce-Report-2015.pdf.

8 A. De Smet, M. McGurk, and M. Vinson. (2009). Unlocking the Potential of Frontline Managers. [McKinsey & Company.] http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/unlocking-the-potential-of-frontline-managers

9 K. Townsend & A. Kellner. (2015). Managing the Front-line Manager. In Handbook of Research on Managing Managers (pp. 104–119). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291830571_Managing_Frontline_Managers