5 Ways You Can Lead Up

SAM_0111Leaders want to lead, and most leadership advice is geared toward influencing and leading those who report to you. But how do you influence leaders in your organization who are above you in the organizational chart? A few days ago, I gave five ways NOT to “lead up” if you’re a second-chair leader (or any other leader who happens not to be the senior leader in your organization). Now, for the flip side; here are five ways to lead up and support your senior leader:

1) Support publicly

Nothing undermines a senior leader’s ability to influence others quicker than a teammate who publicly airs disagreements or criticism her. You don’t have to agree with your senior leader all the time to support them publicly, but conversations with people outside your relationship with your senior leader will give others pause about following her.

2) Understand your leader

Leading up often means learning how to lead in the context and culture of your organization and how its led. There are often many good decisions you can make or solutions you can implement, but if they don’t fit how your senior leader leads or where he’s taking your organization, you aren’t really helping.

3) Love your organization

In my context, I serve in a church, and I love my church. If you’re leading up and you don’t really love what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with, you’ll eventually just be in it for yourself and stop leading up effectively.

4) Replace yourself

A good leader is always building a team and replicating his leadership in other people. Whether you’re just adding more great leaders to your organization or preparing for the day when someone else will be in your role, leading up and supporting your senior leader means teaching others to do what you do.

5) Tell the truth

When you’re the senior leader, very few people will be 100% honest with you, even in a healthy organization. When things aren’t going well, put it on the table with your senior leader. If you see something from your angle that your senior leader could be doing better, he probably wants to hear about it.

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