LEADING OTHERS: Managing Up

Learning to work with your boss and other superiors to achieve the best results is an important skill for effective leadership.


What is "managing up"?

Managing up means taking responsibility for your own success by establishing and managing mutually beneficial relationships with your boss and other superiors. The goal is not to curry favor, but to be more effective.



What are the keys to managing up effectively?

There are three main things to think about when building a relationship with a boss or superior:

Understanding the Boss

  • Appreciate his/her goals, pressures, strengths and weaknesses

  • Be sensitive to his/her work style

  • Remember: the goal isn't to change him/her, but to understand how to work together

Understanding Yourself

  • Identify traits that may impede or facilitate your relationship

  • Recognize the mutual independence between you and your boss to both offer and seek support

Developing and Managing the Relationship

  • Identify differences in work styles and adjust to accommodate your boss

  • Discuss mutual expectations to clarify that they are realistic and understood

  • Be careful not to underestimate the amount of information your boss wants

  • Make reliable commitments and avoid surprises

  • Be selective in how you use your boss’ time


How do I accommodate my boss' work style?

Gabarro and Kotter provide these tips for adjusting to your boss' preferences:



Don't be your own worst enemy when it comes to interactions with your boss. Instead of blaming them for your problems, learn their style and adapt.



Source and inspiration: University of Colorado and Harvard University.

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