Managing Up

Managing up is designed to help you better understand how to meet and exceed your boss' expectations. (See what your boss expects.)

Now, in some circles, "Managing Up" has a negative connotation.  Some believe it implies manipulating your boss, being a "yes" person, or being insincere. 

But I would ask you to think about this from another perspective. And this is why....

Please read on for my insights on how these can contribute to your success.


Managing Up

All of us started off as individual contributors. And we probably thought of several things our boss could do in order to be a better boss.

But focusing too much on your boss' behavior is unwise.  One:  we cannot change another person's behavior; and two:  we spend valuable energy complaining about what someone else is/is not (and should be) doing, which is futile. 

So, my advice is focus on what you can do to perform at your best.

I recently read an interesting article entitiled, "4 Things You Can Say To Make Your Boss Love You" written by Dominque Rogers.  They are:

  1. How can I help you achieve your goals?
  2. I saw this wasn't done, so I did it.
  3. I agree...
  4. I'd be happy to do that.

#1  How Can I Help You Achieve Your Goals?

If your goals are not aligned with your boss' goals and objectives, that is a problem.  If they are aligned, then helping your boss achieve his/her goals means you are also meeting your goals.  And that is a good thing - what Covey calls a "win-win."

So, following through on this first bit of advice for managing can help you meet or exceed both your and your boss' goals.

#2  I Saw This Wasn't Done So I Did It.

Think back to when you applied for your job. You probably thought about why you would be good for the position and it was good for you; why you would enjoy working for the organization and the difference you could make. 

Now that you are in the position, be proactive.  Take the initiative to go above and beyond the call of duty-without being told.  Bosses often love this attribute in employees. 

It is true that some bosses prefer that you to "ask for permission instead of forgiveness."  If this describes your boss, then let them know in advance that you see something that needs to be done and would like to take the lead by doing it. 

#3  I Agree...

This advice on managing up is not intended to make you appear to be a "yes" person, alway nodding and giving assent to everything your boss says. 

But it does mean you find points on which you can agree, even if you agree in part but not in whole.  This allows you to find common ground. 

Good bosses, secure in who they are, encourage employees to voice their thoughts on a given topic, even when they offer differing opinions.

Good bosses know they do now know everything; it is just not possible. That is the reason why they need intelligent people like you on their team.  

#4  I'd Be Happy To Do That.

Just the other day, I was in a board meeting and the chairperson asked for volunteers to work on a problem.  I readily agreed to do so.

Why?  Because it needed to be done.  I was able to use my expertise to help resolve the issue.  Plus, I had the opportunity to work with fellow board members and get to know them better.

Volunteering to take on a task has its benefits. 

(Click here to read the full article. )

Want To Know More?

This advice is designed to help you succeed at work.  One of the best ways to do that:  build a good working relationship with your boss.    

Coming January 2024

I am committed to bringing you the best in leadership development practices so you can stay in the know.  To get monthly updates from Leader Who Leads directly to your inbox, just click the subscribe button and submit your information.  I look forward to receiving your request.  

Be on the lookout for new leadership training sessions via live and recorded webinars.  

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

About Coach Gwen



Leaders don't







- Tom Peters


7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Five Dysfunctions of a Team
For Your Improvement Coaching Guide