As Stephen Covey said "Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall."
Emerging leaders today are caught between the associates they manage and the managers who manage them. Being adept and managing up and managing down is a skill that requires acumen, finesse and confidence. When you think of the best leaders you know what qualities do you attribute to them? What are some of their behaviors and actions that set them apart? Now ask yourself the same questions about the worst leaders you have worked for. In this gap is where you will navigate your own leadership style.
Managing down and up requires different skills and takes time.
Here are two common scenarios :
1. Managing down, but not up : An executive who was well - liked by his team and known for delivering projects on time and under budget didn't take time to understand and prioritize his boss's expectations. He needed him to change his team structure, manage more projects, and enhance his leadership skills. He only realized this after he was passed over for a promotion.
2. Managing up, but not down : Another executive was viewed as a rising star because her creative talents were rare. He spent his time designing new campaigns and presenting to senior leadership. It was not until two of his direct reports quit that his boss realized he neglected his team.
As it is a leader's responsibility to strike a balance between managing up and managing down in order to positively impact his or her entire work world, I encourage you to ask yourself these questions to see where you may need to round out your leadership skills.
- Are you a "super-doer" who spends more time "doing" than managing?
- What are the needs of your team and each direct report? Do you consider it your responsibility to meet those needs?
- What are your boss's expectations of you? How in touch are you with those needs?
- What are your organizational priorities? Are you aligned with them?
- How can you enhance your managerial effectiveness, both up and down?
The art of managing up
We all answer to someone, so a leader must also understand the art of managing up. While many individuals believe that focusing on this is a shortcut to career advancement, senior leaders usually have the ability to recognize the people who do this at the expense of also managing down. Both are essential to your career success.
The art of managing up includes mastering the following :
- Be proactive.
- Keep your manager informed of all the key things he needs to know.
- Promote a positive dialogue.
- Talk positively about your manager to other people.
- When you bring your manager problems, always have a recommended solution.
- Manage your emotions.
- Demonstrate dependability and reliability.
- Develop your influencing skills.
- Be an influencer.
The art of managing down
Your success as a leader depends on your ability to not only develop positive relationships with your associates, relationships that empower them to bring their best thinking and ideas to work. The hallmark of an effective manager is the ability to accomplish results through others.
Here are some fundamental points to managing down effectively :
- Have an open - door policy and walk around the office.
- Communicate. Communicate. Communicate always.
- Be firm and straightforward, but fair.
- Learn to give specific, timely and constructive feedback.
- Remember to listen to your associates (team members).
- Catch them doing something positive!
- Acknowledge and praise.
- Ask your associates to come to you with recommended solutions to problems.
- Be available and approachable.
- Resist the urge to micromanage.
- Support mistakes.
There is rich ground in the space in between. Developing your skills, your self - awareness and articulating your value to the organization will showcase your contributions to your organization and position you for leadership positions. Do the work in this phase of your career and your investment will prove priceless.
In summary, it is your responsibility as a leader to meet the needs of your associates, executives and organization. As you grow within the organization, you will expand your impact as you move from doing excellent work to facilitating your team's development, supporting your higher - ups and driving organizational growth. It is your job to impact all of the people around you. Take time to reflect on the above in order to become the well - rounded leader you aspire to be.