9 | How to Lead Your Leader

Today’s topic is a question I get asked all the time and it came up in several comments in our recent reader survey. If you’re struggling to understand your leader or just hoping to make things better around the office, here are a few things to keep in mind:

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  • You have to understand how they receive information and how you communicate is equally important. Learn more about communication in this post, Start Communicating Better Today.
  • Lead up. Make sure your intentions are to help them, not belittle them. It’s got to be beneficial to both of you.
  • Ask questions and get to understand them personally. When you do that, you’ll get perspective on why they are the way they are.
  • Don’t allow a terrible leader to hold you back. Do everything you can to make the people around you successful – up, sideways and down.

Question: What ways do you know to lead leaders?


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7 thoughts on “9 | How to Lead Your Leader”

  1. Great pod cast Chris. I actually first thought about this a year ago while watching the Band of Brothers DVD correctly the 2nd Lieutenant was not a very good leader, but the officers below him still had to step up and lead. Their lives depended on it. – So first is to take responsibility for my actions. The lack of leadership from above me does not excuse me from failing to lead.

    Another thought is a twist on the ask questions. When you have to address a difficult situation it can be easier to pose it as a question. So if manager made a poor choice or failed to act I could ask “Help me to understand why you made that choice?? or “Can we try xyz next time?”

    As you mentioned though willingness to serve is probably the biggest. We have to be willing to lend a hand and not care about who gets the credit.

  2. Great topic Chris! Leading from the bottom up is such an under-rated sport. 😉 There are a lot of very frustrated “leadees” out there. I have three suggestions…

    1.) Have patience! Nobody changes overnight so be persistent, but gracious.

    2.) Not everyone wants to change, learn, or grow. This can be tough; so be careful not to push. You are better off influencing decisions rather than trying to change wholesale behaviors. That will happen overtime if you hang in there, hopefully.

    3.) Don’t forget that there are lot’s of media options out there to help you influence. I’ve found short youtube videos work the best, but CD’s or books on CD work great for leaders that have a commute. Then, they don’t feel like you are wasting their time.

    Here is a great article, from Let’s Grow Leaders, on how to deal with bosses that are just plain disengaged:


    Good luck either way!!!

  3. I tried “helping” a leader who did not ask for help. It didn’t go well. The comment I got was “you’re lucky I’m laid back, but don’t do it to your next manager”. Ouch! Communication and personality styles were crucial in the situation and I failed to present the opportunity in a way that would be appealing.

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