Congratulations! You just landed the promotion you dreamed of and worked hard for. You successfully influenced your boss and the leadership team with your vision and how you add value to the business.
Now you are leading a team, inspiring them with your vision and creating an environment for high performance.
The challenge now is how to manage your boss. You want autonomy to deliver on your vision. But at the same time, you recognise your boss has much knowledge and wisdom that will be helpful to you and your team. How do you get the balance of autonomy and capitalise on the wisdom of your senior leadership team?
The good news is, you’re not alone. Many managers experience this when transitioning from management to leadership and sustaining a relationship of mutual trust and respect with their boss. The solution is to develop impactful habits and key skills.
Step 1: Be clear on your vision and encourage your team members to contribute their thoughts so they feel apart of it. Listen to what motivates them and their perspectives. Share your vision with your boss to ensure your direction is aligned to the company’s overall vision and strategy. Regularly communicate your vision so everyone remains on the same page.
Step 2: Acknowledge the qualities you recognise in your boss. I am not talking about saying what you think your boss wants to hear. This is about genuine appreciation for the qualities you recognise in her. For example, it might sound something like ‘I appreciate your inclusive leadership style across the company and your broad market knowledge’. Research from the Gottman Institute in the USA suggests that creating a ratio of 5:1 of appreciative environment and positive exchange to a negative exchange or critical feedback significantly improves the depth and length of relationships.
It can be lonely at the top of the company and senior directors often don’t receive feedback unless specifically asked for. Managing your boss and letting her know what you value in her, will enable her to know where she can best contribute and support you in delivering on your vision.
Step 3: Communicate your expectations clearly. Let your boss know what he can expect of you in leading the team to deliver on your vision. At the same time, ask him for what you expect from him. For example, it might sound something like ‘I will deliver our key milestones providing regular updates so there will be no surprises. I would value your input and experience in relation to the broader market as well as tips in how to influence our board members effectively.’
Follow through on what you say you will do. Managing your boss requires a relationship of mutual trust and respect and being open with your communication will help to sustain such a relationship.
These 3 steps are not a one-off conversation, they form the process of building impactful habits and a strong mutually beneficial relationship that you will need to implement regularly to manage your boss effectively.
Being clear, appreciative and communicating expectations regularly will assist you in sustaining a strong relationship with your boss and staying on track for delivering on your vision, with the support of the senior leadership team. Invest time and energy in your relationships with your boss and the senior leadership. Create impactful habits for yourself that will sustain mutual trust and respect for both your boss and your team.