Lead Your Boss

The Subtle Art of Managing Up

 Lead Your Boss

Author: John Baldoni
Pub Date: October 2009
Print Edition: $18.95
Print ISBN: 9780814439005
Page Count: 240
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814415061

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LEAD YOUR BOSS: The Subtle Art of Managing Up

Tactical Tips on Influencing Your Boss (and your Peers)


Noted leadership guru and author, John Baldoni, gives practical advice on becoming a key player in your company, regardless of whether you have an office in the C-Suite – yet. He offers practical advice on leading from the middle, including how to develop spheres of influence, handle tough issues, asserting oneself diplomatically, and inspiring others throughout the company.

1. Leading up (a term that the author borrowed from Wharton professor, Michael Useem) is the process of leading your organization from the middle. That means you lead the organization from the perspective of a CEO but with the authority of a middle manager.

2. Those who lead their bosses are problem solvers. They see problems and they want to fix them or they seek to make positive change. While they are not in charge the way a CEO is, they are in charge of some things. That is, they manage their teams and their resources and as such they can achieve good results and get noticed. More importantly they can look for new ways of doing things and seek to change the way things are.

3. Managing up is the process of handling things for your boss when she gets too busy. Leading up is the process of initiating things to do.

4. Leading up and from the middle requires two things: influence and action. Influence is necessary to open doors so you can be heard. Action is necessary to implement your plan.

5. The recent financial meltdown was exacerbated by a failure of leadership at all levels, but chiefly by those at the top who abdicated responsibility. Now is the time for those in the middle, in concert with the aims of the organization, to use their initiative and skills to transform their organizations into ones that are responsive, nimble, and honest.

6. Those who lead from the middle are those who can think and act strategically. Thinking strategically means thinking about how your actions impact the entire organization. Acting strategically means working collaboratively with your boss and peers to overcome obstacles and affect positive change.

7. When you lead your boss, make certain that what you advocate – be it a new idea, initiative, process or product – meets the vision and mission of the organization.

8. Leading up is a process, an approach to affecting positive change. Some may they enjoy the status quo, because it feels safer, but standing still is an inorganic process. Just as organisms are changing so too must organizations.

9. Those who lead from the middle are those who are sensitive to the need to change and they lobby hard for it.

10. Leading from middle requires a manager to develop spheres of influence within which one is perceived as a person who is accomplished, capable, and trustworthy.

11. When you disagree with your boss, you find ways to assert your position through the strength of your ideas. You argue on issues, never personality.

12. Politics, it has been said, is the art of the possible. Never is this truer than within an organization. For one who leads up it is essential to determine who is with you as well as against you. But often those in the middle without a firm opinion may sway the balance so it is important to cultivate their interests.

13. Genuine inspiration comes from accomplished leaders who achieve sustainable results that benefit individuals, teams, and the organization. Those who lead from the middle know how to get employees engaged in the work so they feel they are making a positive contribution.

14. Those who lead from the middle are good at engaging the attention of others make a habit of asking others for assistance as well as giving it in return. When performed appropriately asking fosters five things all beginning with the letter “C”: courtesy, comity, cooperation, commitment, community.

15. Leading from the middle means learning how to deal with no! In every organization, there are always more people who can and will say no than those who can and will say yes. Leaders seeking positive change need to learn to cope with adversity so they can achieve goals for self and the team.

16. Those who lead from the middle today are those that will lead from the top tomorrow. However, they will not act as top down leaders; they will challenge their direct reports to lead up, too.

17. In times of crisis, leaders must do three things. One, be heard; communicate clearly and consistently. Two, be seen; spend time with employees so they know you are engaged. Three, be there; let people know you are willing to go the extra mile to help them and the team succeed.

18. Senior leaders need to encourage leadership from the middle. Their legacy depends upon developing the next generation of leaders. Good leaders encourage their up and coming leaders to assume more responsibility and to act on their own initiatives, as long as those initiatives are in synch with the mission and goals of the organization.

Adapted from LEAD YOUR BOSS: The Subtle Art of Managing Up by John Baldoni published by AMACOM (October 2009).

John Baldoni, is included in Top Leadership Guru list of the World Top 25 Leadership Gurus for 2009. (http://www.topleadershipgurus.com/list.php). Visit him at his website http://www.johnbaldoni.com/.

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