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Wally Bock

I just reviewed John Baldoni's latest book, Lead Your Boss on my blog. ( http://blog.threestarleadership.com/2009/11/16/book-review-lead-your-boss.aspx ). The book is devoted to this issue and the author does a superb job of laying out a number of practical suggestions. It's the best book I've ever seen on the topic.

The reality is that your job is helping your boss and your team succeed. The other reality is that there is a significant number of bosses who don't seem to want the help and others who won't entirely trust your motives. And there are times when even good bosses lapse into "kill the messenger" mode.

One solution is from my friend, Pete Dunbar. Whenever he took on a new assignment, Pete would ask his new boss two questions. What do you expect from me to help you succeed? What do I need to do to earn an excellent rating? Asking those two questions together seemed to both get valuable information, but also assure that boss that while you want to help him or her, it's not an altruistic gesture.

Perry Klebahn

Bob,

Love the post. I am usually such an optimist - but on this idea more of a pragmatist

I truly wish we lived in a world you could give your boss any kind of feed back - professionally and clearly.

Having been a boss and team member, in my experience you had better stick to reinforcing the boss' positive behaviors only and steer clear of the negative - the risks are just to high.

Zac Rogers

Bob,
I believe the best way to help your boss succeed is to believe in the structure that they have laid out and to actively participate in it. Often times employees complain about the structure of a work environment; chafing about delegation of duties and levels of communication. I think employees do well to give their bosses the benefit of the doubt that they know what they're doing. Questioning their competency should come later, and only if warranted.

Randy Bosch

Great post and great comments.
Perhaps first, we need to look in the mirror and honestly appraise how we approach our work and our relationship to team, mission and boss (including ourselves as our own "bosses") and:
1. Quit sabotaging your boss in the hopes you'll rise in the wreckage.
2. Actually do your job excellently, not just adequately if that.
3. Stop playing the "benign neglect" role on your team, and actively help others.
4. Determine that it really, really isn't all about you.
5. Identify how you can apply "added value" to your work.

Marsha Keeffer

1. Finish it
2. Inspire others
3. Be responsible
4. Accept criticism
5. Focus

Tony Thekkekara

Something that we have been talking about in class recently is being sure bosses are aligned with the purpose of the company. The projects bosses assign should be those that maximize the potential of satisfying the purpose of the organization. If not, make constructive suggestions that could could bring them back into focus. This is assuming the purpose of the organization is clearly defined...Great Post!

Jonathan Friesen

I saw this one time: ask your boss to describe all the threats and opportunities he/she sees on the horizon, and ask how he/she prioritizes them. It's a way of helping your boss focus on what they see as important (to which they may have more insight within the organization). Of course the next question is, "what can I do to help realize those opportunities or overcome those threats?"

John McCoy

Bob, I want to chime in here. I am a bit "long in the tooth," and when I look back on the things that have really changed my life one thing stands out. It was when I quit trying to achieve success and started helping others to succeed. Some of those folks have been very successful and it has made for a very satisfying work life for me.

Jan

I have helped many managers in their career. As a result, some of them was propelled far up the hierarchy for a long time. But this is my sad conclusions from those selfless acts: not one of them returned the favors or even acknowledged the help they got. They all attributed their success to their own abilities. It's quite remarkable how selfish people can be in those circumstances. The career boost lasted for a couple of years, but then it ended without exception. In some cases it ended in spectacular failures, one even managed to wreck a whole company. But for most, they ended in the same place they were before the boost.

Rodney Johnson

I believe you're right in for a long list - so I'll add just a couple.

1. Complete the tasks/job on time and at or above the expected standard.
2.Communicate effectively what is really going on - even when you know its not what they want to hear - a.k.a. no silent problem scenarios with Without Warning events on the horizon.

3. Create a transparent environment
4. Keep It Simple whenever possible

5. Be professional in everything you do

That's my starting point...

Vijay Narayanan

Very relevant post Bob. Here are my thoughts:

- You have to place yourself in your boss's shoes to understand their perspective. This will help one understand decisions and priorities. Instead of thinking about my role and my individual contributions it helps to look at the team's perspective and understand what the boss's is trying to do.

- Anticipate risks and prevent them from materializing if possible. If not, you can provide mitigation strategies and take the initiative on making things better.

- Understand what your boss is trying to do - what is the department and the organization striving for? what business goals is he/she trying to accomplish?

- Generate ideas on improving the team, the processes, the solutions, your firm's products and services. If you provide ideas and execute on them, all the better. But at the very least, you can share the ideas with your boss to make things better for you, him,and the overall team.

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