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Do you need to manage your boss?!?!?!?

Nine months ago, Matt started a new job. In this role, he reports directly to the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) who called me a few months ago and asked me to coach Matt. He told me that Matt is good at building relationships but really struggles on the execution side of the business. He is concerned that Matt is missing deadlines and is unable to manage his workload. The CTO is getting complaints from other people that Matt is not responsive.

So, I meet Matt. He is a super friendly and gregarious person. He is articulate, smart and very open to learning and growing. The first thing I ask Matt to do is complete a DiSC Profile Self- Assessment. I love this tool as it measures a person’s work style.

When I get Matt’s results from the DiSC Profile, my suspicions were confirmed. Matt’s style is polar opposite to that of his manager and hence their working relationship is challenging. This situation is very common in the workplace. We tend to find it most difficult to work with other people who think and problem solve differently than we do.

My approach with Matt over the last few months of coaching has been two-fold. Firstly, we are really focussing on meeting the needs of his clients in a timely fashion. Secondly, we have spent a lot of time discussing how Matt needs to manage up.

We all need to manage up. It’s a normal part of the working environment. The first thing to consider is whether your manager values and rewards the same things that you do. Below is a list of the behaviours that Matt and the CTO value at work:

Matt values and rewards:

  • Creativity
  • Enthusiasm
  • Optimism
  • Collaboration

The CTO values and rewards:

  • Accuracy
  • Attention to details
  • Punctuality
  • Dependability

You will notice that the above list of behaviors is neither good nor bad, right or wrong. They are just different!

Since Matt’s style is more “go with the flow” than that of his manager, he has had to develop systems and processes that demonstrate that he can be accurate, detailed, punctual and dependable. Matt is capable of demonstrating these qualities, they just require a little more work and a concerted focus.

What is your leader’s management style? Is it similar to yours? If so, working with this person will likely be easy. Is their style polar opposite to yours? If so, you can likely relate to Matt’s situation. Regardless, remember, there is not one “right” leadership style. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes.

Being a manager can be challenging as you not only have to manage your team but you have to manage up! Think about what your manager rewards and values and work on adjusting your style to meet their needs. That’s what managing up is all about!

Vanessa Judelman

Vanessa Judelman is an author, coach, and sought-after leadership expert. Over the past 20 years, she has created a proven formula to develop results-oriented leaders who feel empowered and confident in their job. Vanessa is the author of Mastering Leadership: What It Takes to Lead in Today’s Fast-Paced World. Order your copy here.

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