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Life in the middle
isn't easy.

It's pressure from above and stress from below. It's doing the job while also making sure other people do the job. It's managing without management training, leading without leadership development, and implementing changes in strategy without enough information about the bigger picture.

Mid-level managers directly supervise nearly 80% of the workforce. They are the ones who engage, motivate, and direct all the line workers, line supervisors, programmers, engineers, bench scientists, designers, customer service reps, equipment operators, administrative staff, paralegals, clerks, tech support people—everyone who is responsible for carrying out the strategy on the ground. When a new strategy is rolled out, it is the middle managers who have to make sure it gets implemented—on time, on budget, and on top of everything else on their plate.

But coaching for mid-level managers hasn't been affordable. Until now. There are far more mid-levels than senior executives, and one-on-one executive coaching is expensive. Power in the Middle changes that with a combination of individual and group coaching, all firmly based in an effective management training curriculum that can be customized for your organization.

Your organization’s power is in the middle. Business success, profitability, and flexibility in a fast-change world all depend on the skill and ability of mid-level managers. If they are under-performing, it costs your organization plenty—in downtime, delays, inefficiencies, employee disengagement, and turnover... lots of expensive turnover. Put your coaching resources where it will influence the entire workforce. Power in the Middle provides the tools and support your mid-level managers need, at an affordable price.

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Our Services

Not Your C-Suite’s Coaching Program

Successful change begins with skilled leadership, but it does not stop there. Leaders can only succeed to the extent that their organizations have the capacity to understand and execute on their vision and goals. Building that capacity in mid-levels managers is the heart of Power in the Middle’s work.

This is not your typical “executive coaching” engagement. We turn the usual training/coaching model on its head. Instead of big training sessions followed up by just a little coaching, we offer a robust coaching program with a little training up front to get everyone on the same page.

We create an initial experiential session—based on your organization’s goals and strategy, and the specific mindsets, skills, and behaviors you need in your middle managers. Then peer coaching in small groups provides a forum for discussion and practice. It alternates with one-on-one coaching that is deeply focused on the specific areas that each person finds challenging, based on their own self-assessment and that of their manager.

We emphasize real results, including action planning, accountability, and measurable progress.

By working with Power in the Middle coaches, your mid-level managers will realize meaningful and lasting changes that will support your organization’s mission and strategic goals. Your organization will see direct, lasting improvement in productivity, employee engagement, and bottom line results.

How it all fits together

Power in the Middle provides a structured program that helps ensure new skills and behavioral changes are brought into the daily work place and sustained. Research has shown that training alone has at best a temporary impact. Behavior changes and new skills don't stick. But when training is combined with coaching, improvements in productivity and behavior change are four times greater than with training alone.  


Research Basis for Our Work


Our coaching and training is based on current research in the fields of management, brain science, adult learning, team development, talent management, psychology, adult development theory, and coaching.

Gallup Report: People Leave Managers, Not Companies

Gallup reports that "One in two employees have left a job to get away from a manager and improve their overall life at some point in their career." The report finds that only 1 in 10 people "possess high talent to manage" and that "a bad manager is damaging to your employees' health and, as a result, to your company's bottom line." Read More.

Gallup Study: How Managers Can Excel by Really Coaching Their Employees

Gallup found that "when managers learn how to have strengths-based and engagement-focused conversations aimed at achieving the core principles of performance development, manager-employee interactions feel more encouraging, purposeful and rewarding than the typical annual review. For some managers, this comes naturally. Others may require more help." Read More.

Millennials Want Purpose Over Paychecks

In the news from The Guardian: "Employees who feel like their work creates positive impact are more likely to feel fulfilled, promote their company and stay on the job longer. Studies have shown that inspired employees are almost three times more productive than dissatisfied employees. Imagine what you could do if you could triple your current workforce with inspiration, rather than more hiring." Read More

Gallup Study: Transforming Managers into Coaches

A Gallup Study found that "Employees whose manager involves them in goal setting are four times more likely to be engaged than other employees. Yet this basic expectation only occurs for 30% of employees." Read More

Your Most Successful Managers May Be Hiding in Plain Sight

Fast Company reports that "Research suggests that it isn’t star players who make for winning teams—it’s the best of the seemingly mediocre. . . . The most enduringly successful captains may be hiding in plain sight." Read More

Why Being a Middle Manager is So Exhausting

This terrific Harvard Business Review  article, draws on the latest findings from "neuropsychology and the social hierarchy literature to make predictions about the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral effects of power. . . . Some people may believe that they will just be “passing through” middle management on their inevitable march to the executive suite. The reality, however, is that most companies need effective middle managers over the long haul. Google infamously tried to eliminate their engineering managers only to learn that managers mattered — a lot." Read More.


Our Team


Beth Shapiro

Founder and principal of Sustainable Success, Beth Shapiro specializes in improving performance and creating sustainable change for leaders, teams, and organizations. Her work focuses on building capacity to create and maintain strong, strategic, effective relationships. 

Beth holds a Master in Public Administration from Harvard's Kennedy School and is a Certified Professional and Relationship Systems Coach (PCC, ORSC). Her background includes 20+ years of leadership in both the private and non-profit sectors. She has provided coaching and training in a variety of settings including federal and state government, higher education, nonprofits, and a number of private sector industries. 

Beth played a leading role in the U.S. Transportation Security Administration's Security Evolution trainings, featured on 60 Minutes and MSNBC.com. The Department of Homeland Security included this transformational TSA program — which trained more than 50,000 employees over the course of 10 months — among their top 10 successes for 2008. 

Beth serves on the faculty of the Center for Right Relationship (CRR Global), served on the faculty of the prestigious Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and also trains, mentors, and supervises candidates for a number of professional coaching and consulting certifications.

Etta Jacobs

Etta's passion is helping people reach their highest potential. She quickly guides her clients to identify their goals and focus their energy to achieve noticeable results. Etta coaches her clients through career transitions, building their confidence, poise, and capacity to lead. Etta has a combination of real-world senior-level corporate experience and intuitive insight into her clients’ deepest skills and talents.

Etta gained her corporate expertise as an executive at two Fortune 500 companies, where she directed teams of creative professionals working on innovative, multi-million dollar projects. She shepherded her teams through continuous technological transitions and corporate reorganizations, nurturing their resilience and cultivating their creative problem-solving skills.  Etta mentored teams and individuals to be agile as they reinvented production workflows, to meet increasingly aggressive deadlines, without sacrificing quality. Etta draws upon this experience to teach her clients how to look at events through different lenses, question their assumptions, and find creative and unexpected solutions to their career challenges.

Etta holds a Master of Organizational Psychology and is a Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation (ICF). Etta earned her Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from William James College, and her BFA from Syracuse University. 

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 "Our team loved the listening activity facilitated by Etta and Beth.  It brought us together in a creative and meaningful way.  Everyone who participated said they are already applying what they learned in both their personal and professional lives and are interested in inviting Etta and Beth back for more."

Laura Lee Charles, Program Manger of Continual Engagement

"The ability that Beth possesses to ask questions that lead to breakthrough answers is uncanny. She has given my leadership team a stronger foundation from which to pursue professional—and even personal—goals. I am confident the framework she has given us will lead us on many exciting adventures as we continue to create lasting change. I can't imagine having the success we are having had we not had her as our team coach."

Tracey Gearlds, Director
UCSF Campus Life Services

"Etta connects with clients quickly and engages in relationships that help them grow. She provides strong guidance while ensuring the client is driving and accountable for their own development."

Dr. Anne Perschel, Leadership and Business Psychologist

"Beth's specific skills are top notch, but what she really gave us was herself. Her ability to hold so much complexity and make sense of it all helped us make sense of it, too. This project would not have achieved such success without her."

Stephanie Rowe, Former Executive Director
Security Evolution, U.S. Transportation Security Administration

"Etta has natural coaching abilities and is a very skilled coach! She is empathetic, curious, and has a calming yet powerful presence. Etta is an excellent listener and is able to stay right with you no matter where the conversation leads. 

Etta is very skilled at helping her clients really explore possibilities and come up with a plan of action. Etta’s real world experience in the professional world is an added bonus."

Ellen Keiley, Certified Business Development Coach

"Beth's sharp acumen about people and systems, combined with her gentle but high-spirited nature, enables her to connect with individuals and groups at every level of the organization. She provides clients with a challenging, supportive place to create useful learning and lasting change. Her commitment to excellence inspires leaders and teams to achieve their highest potential and most ambitious goals."

Paul Sherman, Former VP of Learning and Development
Vertex Pharmaceuticals

"Etta strikes again! This morning I was preparing a response to a difficult email, and stopped, spoke to two coworkers and then wrote a respectful response. It was clear and to the point, stated my concerns, and some solutions. I thought, thank you Etta!  

When I first met Etta, I would not have paused and approached the situation in that manner. I would have charged right in and made a decision based on my initial reaction. 

Etta was an amazing mentor to me, she helped bring out the best in me. Through tireless hours of mentoring and coaching, she helped me develop a deeper knowledge of the business of publishing. She taught me how to approach difficult situations, and how to stand up for what I believe is right, in a respectful and thoughtful way. It is often at moments like this morning that I pause and think of the effect Etta had on my life and career."

Tricia, Design Manager, Pearson

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