Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Managing Up-The Leader as a Buffer, an Amplifier....and Teacher

I've long maintained that "managing up" was one of the least appreciated dimensions of leadership.   At least part of the reason it is least appreciated is the actual practice of managing up usually is not visible to most employees.

At its best "managing up" means being the voice of the organization to the next level.  One dimension of "being the voice" is for the leader to be a "buffer" between the things "coming down" the hierarchy.  An example of being a buffer might be to guard against "initiative overload"...  discourage new initiatives when there is no more organizational capacity to absorb them.

Another dimension of being the "voice of the organization" is for the leader to be an "amplifier" of messages going up the hierarchy.  When things are difficult, staff want some reassurance that "they know how bad it is down here".

Both of these dimensions are especially important in global organizations where the source of the corporate initiative may be in a different country thousands of miles away and a completely different national culture.  Staff count on their leaders to fulfill both buffer and amplifier roles.

Mary C Schaefer's blog today talks to yet a third dimension...the employee's  "humble desire to do a good job." http://leadchangegroup.com/help-your-employees-to-manage-up/.  Employees tell her:

“I want to…”
  • Understand my supervisor’s needs and how to address those needs.
  • Communicate with my boss better.
  • Influence my supervisor to eliminate obstacles to doing my job well.
  • Learn what actions I can take to be viewed as a more valued and trusted associate.
  • Understand the type and level of communication upper management wants.
  • Garner support for ideas.
  • Be more successful and make the company more successful."
So, yet a third dimension of the "Managing Up" leadership task is teaching others how to do it best.

To be sure, there is a "dark side" to managing up.  We've all seen the self-serving, overly ambitious leader who manages to make himself look good at the expense of everyone beneath and around him in the organization.  That dark side possibility shouldn't deter good leaders from fulfilling their buffer and amplifier roles and in guiding their staff's efforts to humbly do a good job.

No comments:

Post a Comment