“Rank has its privileges.” “Do as I say not as I do.” “I’ve earned my stripes.”
Common phrases likely spoken by common leaders.
Exceptional leaders expect only the privileges enjoyed by all others. Exceptional leaders do what they expect others to do. Exceptional leaders don’t stop “earning” benefits after they believe they have achieved them.
I recently realized that if I count my role as the vice president of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) of Pacoima, I have been in leadership roles for almost 40 years! OMG! Am I that doggone old? Evidently.
So what do I have to show for all of these years of experience?
Well, for one thing I have learned that being in charge is glamorous but being a leader is hard; es muy dificil.
What are the three steps to becoming a millionaire? First, get a million dollars! I thought of this old Steve Martin joke as I thought about what it takes for us to become a trusted advisor. First, become trustworthy.
Being a trusted advisor is critical if we are to influence our bosses to good outcomes (aka managing up). So how do we become trusted advisors?
Be Credible. One of the best ways to be trusted is to be credible. Do we make excuses? Do we avoid accountability? Are we defensive? Those behaviors hurt our credibility and make us less trustworthy. On the other hand, doing what we say we will do when we say we will do it, helps our credibility and makes us even more trustworthy.
I must admit I tend to think of my bosses (past and present) based on what they do (specifically, what they do to me) more than on who they are.
But bosses are people, too.
Thus, as leaders who are influencing people to good outcomes, we should also seek to influence our bosses to good outcomes. It is a concept that I call “managing up.”
The Oxford Dictionary defines “boss” as “a person in charge of a worker or organization”. At least that’s the description of the word “boss” as a noun. It describes “boss” as a verb this way -- to “give (someone) orders in a domineering manner.”
And that’s the difficulty we can face as leaders in our attempt to “manage up.” I recently used the phrase, “managing up” in a conversation and received a blank stare in response. I guess managing up is not a universal concept; but it is a useful one.
Because our working definition of good leadership is “influencing people to good outcomes” and because bosses are people too (right?), we have a role to play in influencing them to good outcomes.