Your boss called. They want you to manage up.
Bosses are frustrating creatures.
They want you to take the lead… But when you do, they micromanage.
They say, “Ask me questions any time!” But they also say, “Can you try to figure it out on your own?”
They say they don’t want status updates. Then they come by your desk frantic asking what you’ve been doing for the past two weeks.
Basically, they want you to read their mind. Which isn’t great for you, because mind-reading is hard.
Luckily, there’s a workaround which is pretty darn close. And that is the skill of managing up.
Here’s the deal: Let your boss think they are managing you. But in reality, YOU are managing THEM.
You know the boss’ favorite? Well, this is the secret that person has figured out.
It’s a bit of a Jedi mind trick. The more you manage your boss, the more they think you are doing great work.
They will think you are capable.
They will think you are worth investing in and going to bat for.
They will actually take credit for managing YOU well. For helping you become a great performer.
But that’s okay. Let your boss have the credit. Besides, it doesn’t matter if they take credit. Because they will feel overwhelmingly positive, warm, and grateful for you. Translation: Your boss will love you for managing up without knowing you are, in fact, managing them.
When your boss loves you, you have options.
You get more interesting projects.
You get to spar 1:1 as an equal and riff on interesting ideas.
You get to push back and your boss respects that.
You are treated like you know what you’re talking about. Your boss will ask, “What do you think?” And they’ll actually listen.
In short, you get the benefit of the doubt. The benefit of the doubt can be everything.
You have more control in your relationship with your boss than you think. And it all starts with accepting (and enthusiastically embracing) that it’s your responsibility to manage your boss.