How Good Are You At Managing Up?

Perhaps you are a high performing individual contributor or maybe you are terrific at inspiring and leading direct reports. But how well do you manage your boss, your boss’s boss or even your peers?

Managing up is important because your career success and advancement potential depends on it. Linear hierarchical structures rarely exist anymore. Organizational structures are becoming more complex and even when there is an organizational hierarchy in place; it seldom reflects how the real work gets done within an organization or how decisions are really made. In my experience as an Executive and Career Coach, I have observed many leaders who were exceptional at getting things done through their direct reports derail simply because they were not good at effectively managing their boss or their colleagues. The ability to manage up and sideways is critical to your career success.

Take this quiz to see just how much you know about managing up? For each statement below indicate whether the statement is True or False.

1. You view and treat your boss as a coach and as a collaborator.

2. You are fully aware of your boss’s expectations of you and how to meet them.

3. Your boss trusts you.

4. You understand your boss as a person: how they think, process and make decisions, what their values are, what they believe to be important at work and in life, their personal strengths, weaknesses and their communication style.

5. You have a clear sense of what is important. You are aware of which battles can be fought and which ones are best left alone.

6. You know what it takes to make your boss look good.

7. You are a good follower as well as a good leader.

8. You know when and how to provide your boss with honest feedback when necessary.

9. You know how to keep your boss in the loop providing them with just the right amount of information at just the right time.

10. You have high emotional intelligence, communication, and interpersonal skills.

11. You have strong internal and external networking skills and can effectively connect the right people as needed. You have nurtured strong business relationships.

12. You have highly developed impact and influence skills and regularly use them especially when rallying those who do not report directly to you.

13. You listen more than you speak and when you do speak you speak with confidence and authority adding value.

14. You have strong organizational awareness and savvy.

15. You are able to remain calm, and in control, no matter what is going on.

If you answered “True” to many or most of these statements, then you are well on your way to knowing about managing up. However, knowing about managing up and being effective at managing up are two different things. It takes self awareness and practice to become effective at managing up. Managing up is a lot easier when you know what to do and how to do it.

If you are interested in developing your ability to manage up more effectively consider hiring a coach. A coach can help you gain self awareness, see different perspectives, and help you close the gaps identified above.

If you would like some midlife career or life coaching, I’m here to help. Contact me at or at 416-617-0734.

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