How Can You Be More Effective at Managing Up?

“Great bosses embrace a larger purpose–and help their employees embrace a larger purpose–because they know business isn’t just business. Business is personal. We all seek to find meaning in our personal and professional lives.”
Author Unknown

When you are a senior leader you are likely the one to encourage an environment that uses conscious leadership, or managing up, in order to create the relationship you want with your team and your boss.

I have had several clients in the last year where managing up became an important conscious choice. All are at the VP level of Leadership and have relationships with the CEO of the organization. One is supervised by the CEO, while the others are just below the level of the top leadership team.

The first client is a Global VP who has been constrained by poor communication, resulting in a lack of knowledge of how to meet expectations, or even what the expectations are. This has caused anxiety and lack of confidence, which has, in turn, affected her communication in meetings with top leadership. It was important for her to become aware of her strengths, and to bring those into her communication and expression of innovative ideas.

As I continue to work with these leaders, the common issue is predominantly a lack of aware self-definition and communication, which can be better facilitated by working with Core Values and Purpose.

In the second client situation, the expectations for the VP kept her online to deal with conflict and challenging conversations for others. This hindered the overall development of her sustainable communication, leadership, and vision for engagement. As she has set up conversations with her boss to further define her function, they are beginning to develop a partnership to solve problems that creates more support.

A third client has been exploring his desire to move up into top leadership. He has had an awkward time in the discussion of the future, and it seems that he and his boss have difficulty understanding each other. As he begins to consider and refine his vision, and what he would like to contribute to the company, he is experiencing better connection with his boss, and they are discovering new areas of mutuality as they discuss the future.

Here are some key activities to help you with Conscious and Effective Managing Up from an empowered position:

  1. Schedule regular weekly or at least bi-weekly meetings with your direct boss to keep communication open, as a way for you to report in and as a way to receive information. Come to the meeting with a prepared agenda for what you would like to cover. If your boss wishes to drive the agenda that is OK but you want to know yours.
  2. Consider your vision of your career tract and what you would like to be known for doing to make a positive contribution to your company. This moves you into a more proactive stance rather than a reactive one.
  3. Create opportunities to become more aware of how others are receiving your communication, and seek their responses to your communication.
  4. Become more neutral and exploratory when conversing with top leaders so you can learn what they want to be known for and what is important to them.
  5. Find opportunities to discuss with peers or a coach what is important to you, your core values, and the purpose you see for doing your job.

We are creating a forum for the discussion of manifesting your leadership and managing up to create influence and impact. Please let us know your thoughts and experiences.

If you have a leadership question, challenge, or success you would like to share, please be sure to leave a comment. I would enjoy hearing from you! – Patricia