Essential Leadership Skills: Leading up ·
The concept of leading up is essential for the efficient cooperation with your manager and upper management.
If you feel that your manager or other managers are constantly bothering you, or questioning your work and requiring more reports, this happens most likely because you do not provide enough information for them by yourself. When you start taking their information needs into account and into your action plan, and start providing correct and timely information and reporting on your progress and results, things will change. You will quickly notice that the requests from management will lessen as you gain their trust with constant usable information flow, and in return they will grant you more autonomy and room to maneuver.
Antidote for micro-managers
In most cases when you feel your manager or upper management are stepping too much into your area, they do this because they do not know what is going on, and they don’t have enough information in their hands to make their decisions or report to their management. They are uncertain of what is happening, and this creates confusion and mistrust even when it is not warranted. When you take care of informing them on regular manner and keep delivering the results as expected, they will most likely step out of your area, and let you do your work.
Supporting your management
Leading up is also needed when your managers need to do decisions and rely on you to prepare information for them. Do your best to give them all the information they need (and no more), to be able to decide effectively and as quickly as possible. When you are in this position, you have to realize that your recommendations have a significant weight on your manager’s decisions, and you are actually guiding his decisions and guarding also him from making mistakes. Build your expertise and relationship with your manager to be able to use this power and serve him well. At the same time, you are doing yourself a great favor, as you are getting more influence and responsibility in the eyes of your manager and your whole team. Use this power, but don’t abuse it, and never mislead your manager by intention. This will hurt your integrity and when you get caught, the trust is gone for good. Not only between your manager and you, but between the whole company and you. This is a mistake that can end your career in your company and severely harm your reputation and make it very hard even changing companies.
All in all, leading up is an essential skill that will help you to cultivate relationships to your management by building trust and respect. Subsequently, it will also help you to gain more freedom to do your work as you wish, and without unplanned interruptions from your managers. Doing it well also builds up your credibility towards higher-level positions, as you constantly demonstrate that you understand the requirements and challenges of your management, and can proactively support in dealing with them.
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