Influencing Upward: How to “Lead Your Leaders”

Like this on Facebook

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you just can’t get through to your boss?

Maybe you had what you thought was a breakthrough business idea get shot down before you could even really get into the details.

Or maybe you know you could create a much better deliverable for a client, if only given a few more days for the assignment. But when you ask your boss about extending the deadline, you’re told there’s no way that’ll fly.

Here’s the thing: It’s not just your boss being difficult. In fact, being able to get your point across and communicate persuasively with your superiors is a critical workplace skill that you have to develop. As Lori Carlin Proctor, senior retail supply leader with Procter and Gamble, put it, “To be an effective leader, you have to be a strong communicator. One of the most important areas of leading and communicating is with your own management.”

In my 15 years of experience coaching emerging leaders, I’ve come to believe that this art—also called “managing upward” or “influencing upward”—is one of the most important skills you can possess. And I recently sat down with Proctor and a few other senior leaders to get their tips for doing it well.

Here’s what they had to say.

1. Understand Your Leaders and Their Goals

“The better you understand your leaders, the easier your life will be, and the more successful you will be,” says Kim Strickland, a VP of finance for Walmart.

In other words, to begin to influence upward, you’ll need to start by learning what is important to your manager and the business, so that you can show how what you’re doing and asking for is relevant to his or her top priorities. “Understand your leaders, what’s important to them, their pain points, goals, and metrics,” echoes Linda Nordgren, vice president and general manager of merchandising with Safeway Inc. For example, is innovation a key priority for the company—or are ideas being tabled for now due to a focus on the bottom line? Is your boss in build-up mode or cost-cutting crunch time?

Read my entire article for The Daily Muse.

Jo Miller

Jo Miller is a leading authority on women’s leadership and a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker who delivers more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo is founding editor of BeLeaderly.com and CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. Learn more about Jo’s services at www.JoMiller.net and follow @jo_miller on Twitter.

Recommended

3 Steps To Restore Your Leadership Confidence

Selective memories. Do you have one? A lot of my clients do in one way or another – and those memories generally don’t work in ...

Ready to Lead? Here’s Stuff You Should Read.

Looking for some good holiday reads? Here they are! These six articles from experts will help you to believe in your value, increase your influence, ...

Are You Overmentored and Undersponsored?

A few years ago, I read a compelling article in Harvard Business Review that was a game changer for me, as it opened my eyes ...

Ready to lead?

We'll show you how!
Get email updates from Be Leaderly.

Our mission is to provide the career strategies that help you lead, climb and thrive as a rising woman of influence.

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

15 Songs for Your Leadership Playlist

It was one of those conference moments I’ll never forget: Carly Fiorina had ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

6 Critical Missteps That Hurt Your Career Advancement

Let’s face it: it isn’t easy to break out and establish yourself as ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

4 Characteristics of Leaders Who Get Hired and Promoted

Imagine if you had the opportunity to sit down with a senior executive ...

Nine Qualities of Female Leaders Who Get Beyond the Glass Ceiling

I’m frequently asked to speak about women in law and specifically the issue ...

5 Things Women Leaders Should Stop Doing. TODAY.

Over the last couple years, I’ve had a front row seat to career ...

8 Types of Courage for Aspiring Leaders

“The truth is that courage resides within you; you must simply decide to ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

How to Manage Former Peers

Let’s talk about a potentially awkward situation. You get a new role and ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

Be Famous For Something! What’s Your Personal Brand?
Be Famous For Something! What’s Your Personal Brand?

Years ago, in one of my first leadership webinars, I interviewed a woman who was

Three Ways to Grow a Culture of Innovation at Work
Three Ways to Grow a Culture of Innovation at Work

When I was 10 years old, all I wanted was a skateboard. Because my parents

Leaderly Quote: Provide people with the air cover they need…
Leaderly Quote: Provide people with the air cover they need…

“Provide people with the air cover they need to do their best work.” — Jo

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Risa Hunter
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Risa Hunter

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing

Let’s Stop Telling Young Ambitious Women to Find a Mentor
Let’s Stop Telling Young Ambitious Women to Find a Mentor

Kaytie Zimmerman is an optimistic millennial, and so much so that she founded a blog

Nervous About a New Leadership Role? Here’s How to Rise to the Challenge.
Nervous About a New Leadership Role? Here’s How to Rise to the Challenge.

I was chatting to a client a while back who told me she was feeling

4 Qualities of an Effective Disruptor
4 Qualities of an Effective Disruptor

Businesses need disruptors to survive. Your company needs people who will question how things are

New Hire Onboard? Here’s What To Do Next.
New Hire Onboard? Here’s What To Do Next.

You’re pretty sure you’ve got this onboarding thing down. You’ve been building your team slowly

Leaderly Quote: Don’t try to do it all
Leaderly Quote: Don’t try to do it all

“Being able to delegate effectively is critical to your success,” says Alice Katwan, Senior Vice

Know When to Say “No”
Know When to Say “No”

The truth is too many people are afraid to say “no” in the workplace, especially

Leaderly Quote: Mentoring isn’t an extracurricular activity
Leaderly Quote: Mentoring isn’t an extracurricular activity

“Mentoring isn’t an extracurricular activity. It’s vital for cultivating an enriching, inclusive community.” — Diana

The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Are you curious what other emerging leaders have been reading at Be Leaderly.com? Here they

3 Acts of Courage to Transform Your Career
3 Acts of Courage to Transform Your Career

What was your first big, bold, act of courage? For Nithya Ruff, Senior Director, Open

Moving From People-Pleaser to Robust Leader
Moving From People-Pleaser to Robust Leader

Being nice is good for business – until it’s not. You may think that being

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Subscribe

captcha

PRIVACY

We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address.
Copyright 2017, Be Leaderly