Managing relationships with bosses throughout your career will be among the most critical personal leadership roles you'll fulfill professionally. Think about how you're managing the relationship with your boss:

  • Do you work well together or are there personal challenges between the two of you?
  • Do you learn from each other?
  • Do you drive each other crazy?
  • If you weren't working together, would you stay in touch professionally over time?

You alone can consciously take the personal leadership steps in strengthening and managing relationships, including those with a boss. The often used phrase for this is "managing upward." While the phrase describes aspects of managing relationships with bosses, the dynamics are deeper.

From my personal experiences and observations, here are sixteen ideas to consider in creating a stronger working relationship with your boss. (BTW, I alternated "he" and "she" as personal pronouns throughout the list.)

16 Ideas for Managing Upward

  • Understand your boss as a teammate and a client because both roles are relevant.
  • Ask and learn how your boss likes to communicate? Deliver communications that work for him, with the “right” amount & type of information.
  • What are the strengths & weaknesses of your boss? Complement both of them in your working relationship.
  • What’s her decision making style? Propose recommendations in ways that fit how she evaluates & decides on things.
  • Hone your skills to anticipate what he needs and see things coming before they actually happen.
  • Demonstrate complete trustworthiness. Display the highest integrity. Don't break confidences; safeguard the “vault.”
  • Be networked – know who knows things and be able to share relevant information your boss might not be privy to in her relationship circles.
  • Have a great working relationship with your boss' assistant and the other key people around him.
  • Be a strong negotiator.
  • Ask questions – help her think through issues and get to stronger points of view based on your contributions.
  • Provide ideas and recommendations - not long lists of what's wrong.
  • Be honest with your fact-based opinions – let him know if (and why) you think something isn't correct or won't work.
  • When you challenge, do it with facts and know when you need to give up the challenge.
  • Be prepared to give her what she needs, even if it’s not what she asked for (if she even bothered to ask for it).
  • Go above & beyond when the effort’s needed, without questioning it at that moment. Make sure, however, "most" of your dynamic efforts get noticed.
  • Let your boss know when he does a good job. Everyone appreciates knowing this.

Tomorrow we'll complete the series on managing relationships by turning attention to the dreaded corporate sociopath and managing relationships with these people who can create so much havoc in organizations. - Mike Brown

Book a call with Mike Brown and you could quality for a 30-minute Strategy Planning Alignment Blast! with your senior leadership team.