What is Managing Up?

From the Coach’s Corner: Executive coach, Bob Oberleitner, explains how to effectively “manage up” based on what outcomes you’re trying to achieve.


Recently several clients have indicated that they are interested in “manage up.” Do you feel that you effectively manage up?

My response to clients is to ask, “what is your definition of ‘managing up?’”  Many will say essentially, they want their boss to do what the client wants them to do.

If you want to manage up, a few questions to ask yourself are – “What are you looking to accomplish?” Are you trying to make your job easier, or to pass along front-line information to help your boss make a more informed decision? Are you trying to navigate a “bad” boss?

If your intention is to ensure your boss makes the “right” decision, ensure that you are seeing enough perspectives to know that you are providing the best recommendations for the organization. One context analogy is that an organization is like a large sailboat where each level of employee: the front-line employees, managers, and executives are positioned on the sailboat having successively higher perspectives of the boat. For example, executives are in the crow’s nest and able to see out toward the horizon and into the water near and beneath the boat. This is a perspective that front-line employees/managers on the boat deck don’t have. Each layer’s perspective is important to the proper and safe operation of the vessel. Just because a manager didn’t turn the boat the way you want does not necessarily mean your input and perspective were not taken into consideration.

Consider whether you are providing your management chain with a perspective that they may not already have access to. Are you providing information/assistance that helps your boss solve challenges encountered at their level? Know what language resonates with your boss. Do they find data or gut feel more persuasive?

If you happen to work for a boss who is not self-aware or otherwise is a “bad” boss, how can you support them to help them be successful? If they are indecisive, can you package your proposal with justifications that ease their typical concerns?

Whatever type of boss you have your awareness of the challenges they grapple with will help you have greater influence. A leadership coach can help you sort out which approaches are best for you to obtain your desired result.

If you have a topic that you would like covered in a future “Coaches Corner” send it to [email protected]

The "Coach's Corner"  Articles are written by Robert Oberleitner, executive coach.  Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Robert Oberleitner.

What is Managing Up?

What is Managing Up?