There was a time when middle managers were seen as fairly expendable. If you needed to cut costs or eliminate layers, managers were the first to get the axe. The realities of today’s environment are changing that, however. Managers are playing a pivotal role, not just in making sure key tasks get done, but in engaging employees to be more vested in the organization and motivated to contribute their best. As we keep asking people to “do more with less,” step up to new challenges, and embrace new organizational directions, managers are the ones who have the greatest opportunity to influence the actions on the front lines. They are also critical for helping organizations keep and grow top talent, a particular concern as employee disengagement and turnover rates are costing companies billions of dollars annually.