Manage Up to Drive Your Career to Greater Heights


Today, I want to talk about self-leadership. More specifically though, I’d like to focus on how you can access the support you need to thrive, grow, and most importantly, to PROVIDE YOUR GREATEST VALUE to the business and your people.  

When I work with leaders one-to-one in a coaching format, we usually circle around to the question … how often are you catching up with your manager? Because it’s my experience that when leaders have consistent, quality one-to-one time with their managers they are more engaged, more purposeful and more effective – overall, more valuable. 

But despite this, many leaders don’t get the one-on-one time they desire or need to thrive. Indeed, many leaders are resigned to the fact that they won’t ever have quality time with their managers, often citing things like, ‘my manager's really busy’.  

Now, when I dig deeper and start to explore what they actually talk about during the meetings, things are even more revealing. 

Think about yourself for a moment. 

  • How consistently are you meeting with your one-up manager?
  • Is your time together considered a priority by each of you? If it has to be cancelled, is it rescheduled?
  • Is there a clear, predictable structure to the conversations?
  • Are you having operational management conversations about things such as delivery, planning, staffing issues and are you having leadership conversations such as how you and your team fit into the organisation’s strategic vision, and your development and career planning?
  • Are there clear goals and action plans with mutual accountability?
  • Do you leave the conversations energised and purposeful?

To build a relationship with your manager that allows you to thrive and to provide your greatest value, but also for your manager to be the best possible leader for you, it takes time and it takes trust. The consistency in contact is critical for it to grow and strengthen, so that it can lead to deeper conversations, where it's safe to talk about your growth and the opportunities and challenges you may be facing. 

If you’re not currently experiencing your ideal, I want to encourage you to manage up and ensure you have the time and support you need.  

So, in an ideal, blue-sky world, what is it that you would like from your manager or leader to be most fulfilled in your career? What would you want to discuss, and when and how often? Spend some time thinking this through and then go ahead and share this with them, and tell them what you need to provide your greatest value. This will go a long way in creating a space for you to have bigger and more strategic conversations about your role, your team, your development and your career. And also to have those all-important feedback conversations. 

The time with your manager could look like … an hour with your manager once or twice a month, or possibly 30 minutes at the beginning of the month, and then two weeks later, an hour to have a more strategic or development/career-focused conversation ..

Use a framework

Many one-to-one meetings have little structure and as a result, don’t achieve much. They can be nothing more than a coffee catch up and often don’t address the issues that create true growth or impact.

It’s clear that one-on-one meetings are most powerful when there is a clear, predictable structure that ticks off both management and leadership conversations.

It’s for that reason I often provide a framework for a one-on-one session when I'm coaching leaders – for use either with direct reports or with their own managers or leaders. For direct reports, the framework focusses your mind on the most effective way to lead them – from conversation starters to leadership and management conversations. For sessions with your own manager or leader, the framework can provide a structure to progress the discussions and encourage actions. It also helps to explore your goals, your development planning, and competency gaps that you may have in any leadership frameworks that are relevant in your organization or your industry. 

This preparation and structure allows you to put on the hat of self-leadership, take responsibility and control, and say, ‘These are the things I'd really like to explore in this framework’. You don't need to follow every point, but you've got everything there that you may need. 

In summary, I'd like to encourage you as a leader to ensure you get what you need from your manager to provide your greatest value to the business, to your team, and to the outcomes that you're there to achieve. 

Cement in regular, recurring appointments in the calendar.

Take responsibility for ensuring these happen.

Don't sit back and say, "Oh, they're busy, they don't have time"

The opportunity is to own it, drive it, make it happen and make it count. 

If you’d like to talk about how I can help you develop these skills as well as many others that are going to help you elevate your leadership capability so jump on my calendar for a quick 20 min chat.


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