One of the most common topics I’ve covered with my clients has been what I call “Leading Up.” Consider these examples:
- A CEO/president needs to help her board of directors advise her, especially if they don’t agree. It’s tricky, but absolutely necessary for survival.
- A non-owner CEO/president gives the entrepreneurial owner a positive method/approach for providing and getting input.
- A COO enables a narcissistic CEO to be successful while still building a great team.
- The CEO of a North American subsidiary facilitates an appropriate information exchange with their foreign parent to provide a degree of comfort.
You can probably come up with your own scenario, but the point is that the subordinate needs to help their supervisor lead them.
Why, you ask? Because I’ve seen too many disasters occur when there’s no communication or poor communication from the supervisor — which almost always leads to the subordinate finding another job.
My advice to those of you who are in this situation is to very surgically offer a structure to help you and your supervisor be successful.
Here are a few tips:
- Set up regular, periodic meetings to update your supervisor.
- Provide summarized updates of your activities/goals.
- If they don’t ask for goals, create some — and get their buy-in.
- Utilize every interaction with your supervisor as a chance to enhance your relationship.
- This may sound weird, but treat your supervisor like your best customer/client.
- Never upstage your supervisor; rather, provide them opportunities to shine in front of customers/clients and the team.
- Harry Truman said, “It’s amazing how much we can do if we don’t care who gets the credit.” Don’t be insincere or unnecessarily flattering, but give your supervisor credit for new ideas if they were involved in any way.
Hopefully, you’re getting the point. I’ve observed some very strong, successful subordinates (i.e. CEOs, presidents, COOs) do this really well.
If I can help you with your specific situation, please let me know.