Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Creating Exceptional Workplaces and Extraordinary Results
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A Leader’s Guide to Managing Up in the Top Down World of Business

Leader Managing Up
Leader Managing Up

In the past month, I’ve had a bunch of leaders reach out to me for help in managing their boss. Seems like managing up is a common challenge among leaders. Here’s some helpful tips to guide you, as you look to manage up in the top down world of business.

It may seem unnatural to manage those above you in the top-down world of business. But mastering this skill is exactly what must be done to excel in any organization.

There will always be “a boss,” even if someone is currently an entrepreneur. Someone above will always be influencing us. This person may be a spouse, partner, an outside investor, or may actually be the boss.

It’s critical that we learn how to manage these relationships effectively, so we can secure the resources necessary to be successful in any situation. Here are seven tips to help you manage up in the top down world of business.

  1. Decode your boss’s management style. I’ve yet to see a situation where a boss molds his style to that of his employees. You can be certain you will be the one doing the adjusting. Start by observing how your manager uses authority, the way he relates to others, and his communication style as a leader. Most bosses typically fall into one of the following categories: Dictatorial, Laissez-faire, Bureaucratic, or Consultative. Once you determine the type of manager you’ve been handed, you can then study ways to work most effectively with this type of leader.
  2. Prepare to play the game of politics. Politics is played in every organization; so the sooner you learn how to play this game, the better off you’ll be. Politics is the informal way that things get done in an organization. Pay close attention to how work really gets done in the organization. People who master this game follow unwritten rules that allow them to maneuver swiftly through the organization to obtain scarce resources, approval of prized projects and promotions. Can you see now why it’s important to master this game?
  3. Master the art of influencing. Influencing is communicating effectively with a goal in mind. Be specific in your request while highlighting why it’s in your boss’ best interest to comply with your request, and you will be on your way to mastering the art of influence.
  4. Toot your own horn. For years we’ve been taught that it’s not polite to brag. But if we don’t, how will others know about our contributions? When companies put together lay-off lists, they exclude those whose contributions are well known throughout the organization. You may be the best singer in the room, but no one will know this if you never open your mouth.
  5. Manage your own performance. Bosses are busy people and most would rather walk on hot coals than write a performance review. Prepare your own review, which should include ways you’ve added value to the organization as well as areas needing further development. Present this to your boss a week prior to your review, and don’t be surprised if what you get back closely resembles what you’ve submitted.
  6. Hire a mentor or a coach. Every star player uses a mentor or a coach to help them improve their game. Find someone who is willing to hold up the mirror for you so that you can clearly see what your boss is seeing. Then adjust your style accordingly.
  7. Attach your star carefully. You never want to be so closely associated with your boss that you find yourself on the outskirts the moment she is no longer in favor. Be your own person so others know you are more than someone’s sidekick.

© Matuson Consulting, 2020.

To learn more about managing up, download a copy of my book, Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around.

Send me a private message at to explore what a VIP day for you, looks like with me. I’ll be offering just seven of these sessions this year, and three are already gone.

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