Are You Leading Your Boss?

It Is About Managing Up, Not Sucking Up


One of the proudest moments of my career was being hired as human resource director for a major Fortune 500 company.  I had used my network well in finding the opportunity and then prevailing as the best candidate in a very competitive interview process.  However, within a year of this triumph, I found myself on the job market again. Why?  Looking back over what happened, my demise was due to one reason and one reason only; my inability to lead my boss.  


Bosses come in all shapes, sizes, and abilities; however, they all need one thing, support.  Your ability to lead your boss by understanding what

she needs, not only from you, but from her boss, and what is going to make her successful is absolutely critical.  This is what I failed to do in my all too brief stent in that big corporate job.  However, this does not have to be your fate as we explore three powerful tactics to build a better relationship that will enable you to lead your boss. 



1. The Boss Is the Boss

As much as we extol the ventures of democracy, the work place is not Confident Business Woman democratic.  While you may be smarter, more talented, and better suited for the work than the person who is your boss, the fact is that right now, she is your boss.  It is your duty to adapt to her style and ways of doing things. Your boss may do all manner of things that drive you up the wall; however, what you have to do is to cut through the nonsense and deliver.  Bosses value people who deliver, so find a way to respond quickly and effectively on last minute requests that interrupt your plans and wreck your day.  Become famous for addressing unpleasant items that always seem to find a way to your desk.  Instead of thinking of yourself and becoming a doormat for your boss, become the go-to person for your boss.  The person she has complete confidence in and can depend on in good times and especially the bad times.   Recognizing with all her flaws that the boss is the boss and that you need to become an indispensable go-to person for her will bring you new found leverage, power, and credibility on those occasions when you need to differ with her.   


2. Get Regular Face Time with The Boss

The boss is a busy person; you are a busy person. However, the relationship with your boss is the most critical relationship of your business career.  After all, the Boss is the person who has a great deal of control over your future.  Even in this email and text-crazy business world we live in, nothing forges relationships like face-to-face conversation. Therefore, it is incumbent of you concisely seek those discussions with your boss.  That's right. The spotlight is on you, not your boss, to seek these discussion.  So how do you do this this especially if you and your boss have no previous history of such talks? Here are two things you may want to try: 

  • Monthly Meeting

Schedule a formal face-to-face monthly meeting.  Use the time to discuss your goals, the progress achieved, and difficulties encountered.  Also ask and find out how you can be of assistance the boss.  This is another opportunity to enhance your status as her go-to person.


  • Speak with the Boss Daily

Make it an informal habit to speak with your boss daily.  This informal time could be a quick chat early in the morning before the madness of the day begins, or a brief pop-in visit with a quick update between meetings.  Does your boss travel? I found an effective way to chat with my road warrior, leader is to make a brief call in the early evening.  The purpose of my call is to provide update on matters important to her or to offer my assistance on things that she may need while away from HQ. 




Out of site is out of mind, and to stay relevant with our bosses, we must communicate regularly.  Get into the habit of being in constant, consistent and productive contact with your boss.  Yes, it may seem awkward and difficult at first, but keep at it because the rewards for both of you are great.




3. Become The JEOPARDY! Champion About Your Boss




A JEOPARDY! Champion requires vast knowledge of an array of topics.  To lead your boss, you must become a JEOPARDY Champion about your boss.  In other words, you have to obtain a vast knowledge of only one topic, your boss!  This knowledge is your gateway to a sustained relationship and a key part of becoming the go-to person for your boss.  Leadership expert Jill Geisler, the author of Work Happy, has developed 20 core questions that we should all know the answers to about our boss.  Let's examine five of those questions critical to your JEOPARDY! Championship. 


1.    Communication - How does your boss prefer to communicate to you? How does your boss prefer to get communication from you?

2.    Face Time - What is the best way to get 30 minutes of uninterrupted face time with your boss?

3.    Blind Spot- Does your boss have any blind spots or areas she does not notice or focus on?

4.    Personal Passions - What are your boss's passions outside of work?

5.    Nonnegotiable - On what matters, will your boss never compromise?



Yes, the business of leading your boss can be risky; however, if done with 



skills, the rewards can be exceptional for you and your boss.  So go forth and lead. Take it from one who knows, you have nothing to gain but your job!!! 

Marben Bland

Marben Marben Bland is a Writer, Speaker and Strategist who is committed to humbly serving the Lord while being a successful business leader.

Bland has worked in leadership roles for some of the best companies in the world including Sara Lee, Unisys, Eaton, Fiskards Brands, PPG, and Advanced Micro Devices. A veteran of Operation Desert Storm, Bland served a decade as a US Army officer.

An emerging faith leader Bland is currently a seminary student at Liberty University while serving as the CEO of the Marben Bland Group, a collection of companies focused on helping small to midsize business to obtain the capital, people and strategies they need for success in the global market place.  

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