Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up


Every manager on the move wants to have influence at the top in order to get his or her ideas heard and ultimately acted upon. In Lead Your Boss, recognized leadership guru John Baldoni gives managers new—as well as tried-and-true—methods for influencing both their bosses and their peers, and giving senior leaders reasons to follow their lead. Featuring instructive stories based on real-life experiences from ...

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Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up

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Every manager on the move wants to have influence at the top in order to get his or her ideas heard and ultimately acted upon. In Lead Your Boss, recognized leadership guru John Baldoni gives managers new—as well as tried-and-true—methods for influencing both their bosses and their peers, and giving senior leaders reasons to follow their lead. Featuring instructive stories based on real-life experiences from leaders at all levels, Lead Your Boss reveals proven strategies for:
• Developing spheres of influence
• Handling tough issues
• Asserting oneself diplomatically
• Putting the team first
• Persuading up
• Establishing trust
• Using organizational politics to everyone’s advantage
• Inspiring others through-out the organization

Lead Your Boss gives readers practical, tactical advice on becoming a key player in any organization, regardless of whether or not they have an office in the Csuite…YET.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"..useful advice…offers encouragement and inspiration. The book breaks its lessons down into simple steps." — Harvard Business Review

"...concrete advice for those who find themselves working in the middle…whether that means honing your diplomacy skills, eliciting great ideas, or taking that essential leap of faith." — Washingtonpost.com

“…down-to-earth, nuts-and-bolts, and easy to connect with…” — leadershipnow.com

Selected as on the best books of 2009 by CEO Refresher.com

Selected by Leadershipnow.com as one of the Best Leadership Books of 2009

”… strategies for getting your ideas heard, establishing trust at the top and throughout your team, generating honest feedback, becoming a leader in your own right…” — T+D magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814415054
  • Publisher: AMACOM Books
  • Publication date: 10/14/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 713,666
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

JOHN BALDONI (Ann Arbor, MI) is an internationally recognized leadership consultant, speaker, and author of many books, including Lead by Example and Great Communication Secrets of Great Leaders. He was named one of the “30 Most Influential Leadership Gurus” for 2007 by www.LeadershipGurus.net. His leadership writings have appeared in BusinessWeek.com and FastCompany.com, and he has been featured or quoted in publications including the New York Times, USA Today, and Investor’s Business Daily.

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Read an Excerpt


"Leaders are almost by definition people who change minds."

—Howard Gardner, Leading Minds

Your organization needs a strategic resource allocation plan.With budgets being squeezed and headcount being trimmed, you need direction on what projects you should pursue and within what timeframes. You have discussed this many times with your boss a but for some reason that you do not understand, she has not acted.

So what do you do?

You take action. You take the lead for your boss. You develop the plan on your own and submit it to her for approval.And if she approves it, you ask for permission to move it forward. In doing so, you are filling the leadership void through prompt and decisive action. You are demonstrating what it takes to lead your boss.

But, as you will discover in this book,“leading your boss” is really a metaphor for leading from the middle. Those who lead from the middle are those who think big picture and can do what it takes to get things done so their bosses and their teams succeed.

Very often such individuals lead their bosses, but they may also be leading their boss’s boss as well as their own colleagues and direct reports. Those who succeed at leading from the middle also are artful and adept managers; they utilize their management skills to establish goals, plan projects, organize people, and execute projects on time and on budget.

Not so easy to do, but it is possible when you rethink and reframe what you want to accomplish and how you want to do it.

That is, you are not acting for yourself, but you are acting for the good of the organization. This requires initiative, persuasion, influence a and persistence and no small amount of passion. Taken together this is what experts call “leading up.”

• *

“Leading up requires great courage and determination,” writes

Michael Useem, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and author of an eponymously named book that popularized the concept. “We might fear how our superior will respond, we might doubt our right to lead up, but we all carry a responsibility to do what we can when it will make a difference.”

Individuals who lead up are those who demonstrate that they are aware of the bigger picture and are ready, willing, and able to do what needs to be done for the good of the team. Such individuals prove their mettle when times are tough. When leading up from the middle, here are three questions to consider:

1. What does the leader need? The boss is responsible for her people as well as getting things done right. As a directreport a ask yourself, what does the boss need to do her job better? It may require you to think more strategically as well as act more tactically.

2. What does the team need? Ideally, the team pulls together; it doesn’t always happen because ego gets involved. The boss often then spends time smoothing over bruised egos.However a if a team member were to step forward and help in the

“smoothing over,” it would free the boss to focus on the big picture.

3. What can I do to help the leader and the team succeed? The answer may involve taking on more responsibility to do a job, or it may mean stepping back to let others do theirs. For example, if the team is struggling over direction or resources a you may wish to pass (for the moment) on your personal needs. Give one up for the team so that the leader can push forward.

Turning those questions into a plan of action will provide a roadmap for how to lead your boss in ways that make the boss look good, the team succeed, and you emerge as a team player who is adept at making good things happen.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments xi

Prologue 1


STEP 1: Leading Up 11

STEP 2: Thinking and Acting Strategically 24

STEP 3: Pushing Back the Right Way 54


STEP 4: Letting Others Create the How 81

STEP 5: Breaking Down the Doors 109

STEP 6: Working the System 135


STEP 7: Bending but Not Breaking 153

STEP 8: Preparing Others to Lead 171

STEP 9: Leading with Presence 194

The Smart Guide to Positive Push-Back 207

Notes 211

Index 219

About the Author 226

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