Dealing with complexity and ambiguity in times of disruptive change and digital transformation is important for companies? sustainable growth (Birkenshaw, Hamel & Mol, 2008; Lee & Edmondson, 2017), which forces organizations to organize their structures and processes in a more flexible and adaptive way (Child & McGrath, 2001; Balogun & Johnson, 2004; Konlechner, Müller & Güttel, 2018). Such a change challenges leaders on all hierarchical levels (Uhl-Bien & Arena, 2018), yet especially those being on the middle level (Rost et al., 2018). We therefore have a closer look at what it means for the middle managers and their managerial identity to be confronted with a change towards more decentralization and empowerment. Our results reveal that one side effect of more flexibility and decentralization of decision is that middle managers are put under pressure by having to collaborate with other middle managers (Johnson & Frohman,1989), who are at the same time competitors. Thus, we have to rethink middle managers identity not only in relation to the managerial hierarchy in a vertical direction (looking upwards and downwards), but also in a horizontal one (looking to the side).