The Importance of Managing Up

By Justine EdenJustine Eden, Director

Having been in the recruitment industry for a few years now (not specifying how many because it makes me feel old!) I have been able to sit back and watch many people progress up the leadership ladder. Some more successfully than others. There can be many factors impacting on success of course, but in many instances I have seen the inability to recognize the need to manage up, lead to failure.

Managing up can sometimes bring connotations of having to “kiss arse” – excuse the language, and I would argue that if this is what you interpret as managing up you are missing a key opportunity. Many leaders can be overly consumed with managing down and depending on the profile of your team sometimes this is necessary – but you need to ensure this isn’t a long-term strategy.

You need to focus attention on managing yourself – your career, your education, your professional portfolio to ensure you remain relevant and challenged. You of course will have an element of managing down through delegation and KPI’s to ensure deliverables are met.

But – how to manage up? Be clear on who above you this could include and then determine how often and how you will need to feedback to each person. In person communication is an effective way to build rapport and trust followed by putting things in writing to protect each other.

A good executive should adopt a no surprises approach in order to have the back of the people they report to and should also be able to determine what is communicated and what is not to prevent information overload. No Board wants hundreds of pages to read through, so your ability to grasp and communicate the key issues and expand if needed, is critical.

By managing up you increase your visibility and intel because you should be privy to strategic issues and be on the front foot to ask for the opportunity to work on key projects. You will better anticipate future challenges and therefore be able to better position your team to respond. Knowledge and networks are the power base of any ambitious executive but like anything require constant work and attention!

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What Makes a Good Leader

For the last few weeks I have worked with a number of clients to make critical executive level appointments. So what makes a good leader? I am not talking about the ability to strategically influence complex agendas, but rather the key qualities every good leader should possess such as honesty, the ability to delegate, communication skills, a sense of humor, commitment, innovation, and the ability to inspire others!!

The bar needs to be high in regards to honesty. Your work unit is a reflection of you, and if you make honest and ethical behavior a key value, your team will follow suit.

The key to delegation is identifying the strengths of your team, and capitalizing on them. If people like what they do they will be better at it, so learn to trust your team.

Being able to clearly describe what you want done is extremely important. If you can’t relate what you want your team to do, you won’t all be working towards the same goal.

Things don’t always go according to plan. Part of your job as a leader is to put out fires and maintain team morale, staying calm and confident, will ensure your team feels the same.

If you expect your team to work hard and produce quality outcomes, you’re going to need to lead by example. There is no greater motivation than seeing the boss down in the trenches working alongside everyone else.

Its important to keep your team motivated towards the continued success of the business. Whether that means saying good morning or actually being interested in others’ lives, or even just an occasional wine in the office, its important to remember that everyone on your team is a person.

Decisions will not always be clear-cut and as leaders we are forced at times to deviate from the set course and make decisions on the fly. This is where innovation and the ability to think outside the box is key to success.

When leading a team through uncharted waters, there is no roadmap. Everything is uncertain, and the higher the risk, the higher the pressure. That is where your natural intuition has to kick in.

Inspiring your team and ensuring everyone feels invested in the accomplishments of the business is critical. Generating enthusiasm for the hard work is so important. Remember a business is only as good as its people.

So being a good leader is one thing, but it is even more important that you emphasize these qualities to those who are making the hiring decisions.

Contact Eden Ritchie via our website and following our team on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Leading Women

Last week I had the opportunity to hear 3 amazing women speak about their rise through the ranks to be in top positions for their organisations or government departments.

  • Julieanne Alroe – CEO and Managing Director – Brisbane Airport Corporation
  • Katarina Carroll – Commissioner QLD Fire and Emergency Services and
  • Winna Brown – Partner, Assurance – Ernst and Young

It was quite inspiring to listen to them tell their stories and acknowledge and laugh with them about perceptions and barriers along the way. The story from Commissioner Carroll about when she first joined the police force in 1983 and was required to wear high heels and carry both her gun and handcuffs in her handbag, while the men wore these on their belt. This was a clear distinction between the genders. Of course now that is not the case as both male and female officers wear these plus more on their utility belts.

My biggest take from this event, was that we need to voice what we want and not be afraid to do so. Be bold and ambitious in what we want. Take the risk and don’t be afraid. If you don’t ask then you will never know.

This is further more reiterated in a book that I am reading at the moment called “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg who is the COO for Facebook. Times are changing and there are more women in leadership positions across the world then 10 years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, we have a long way to go and with the next generation of women coming through, are not afraid to speak up and ask and this will lead to more and more women will be in significant leadership roles.

The gap of inequality in leadership positions is slowly decreasing and I look forward to the day in which I see more women in senior positions.

Contact Eden Ritchie via our website and following our team on LinkedIn and Twitter.