3 Ways to Lead Those Leading You (Leading Up)

Two Young Women in Front of the Computer TalkingAre you leading up?

As leaders, we aren’t just responsible for those on our staff or volunteer teams (leading down). We are also responsible for self leadership and influencing our peers (leading sideways). But perhaps the most influential privilege we have is leading those who lead us (leading up).

Why is leading up so powerful? Leading those who lead you has big impact for two reasons:

  1. By leading up, you help the leaders above you be successful. You do this by helping them reach their goals and accomplish their objectives.
  2. By leading up, you increase your value within the organization. Your Most Valuable Player reputation will invite new opportunities and relationships.

One of my favorite examples of someone leading up with me is a dynamic young leader named Sarah. Sarah was bursting with potential, eager to learn, and a tremendous team player. It wasn’t long after I hired Sarah that I realized she wasn’t going to keep her head down and just get her work done. She was determined to not only be successful in her efforts, but help me and the other leaders in our organization be successful, as well.

Following Sarah’s lead, here are 3 Ways to Lead Those Leading You:

  1. Improve your leader’s vision: As a leader, I can get laser focused and have difficulty seeing beyond what’s right in front of me. Sarah would frequently point out opportunities for me to pursue or obstacles that might get in the way of our success. Sarah would also help me see my blind spots. She would pull me aside if she saw I had overreacted or not followed through.
  2. Enhance your leader’s hearing: I loved when Sarah would give insight into the mood and morale of the teams around us. She would not only keep me in the know, but also share invaluable feedback based on things I wasn’t hearing: body language, context, or background story.
  3. Increase your leader’s capacity to respond: If you’re like me, I would much rather intentionally respond than emotionally react. Sarah became one of my most trusted advisors by offering wise counsel and good questions. And when Sarah brought a problem to me, she came with potential solutions and was part of the action plan.

What would you add to this list? How do you lead those leading you?




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