Leading is not an one directional way. One might think it is always top down but there are possibilities to bring your boss onto the way you intended. Achieving this needs some preparation. Let us investigate what you have to do to lead bottom up. (Update Jan 2020)

Understand the priorities of your superior

Even as a person that is in a leading position, you have someone above you. And he might as well. Usually, you are hired for helping him on his issues and you might hire people to help you on very specific topics. In the end, the organisation is consisting of persons that help each other while the problems get more abstract, ethical and philosophical to the top of the organisation.

And within your organisation you might fill into a role which has a certain aim. But you have to consider why this role is in place and how you are in this role helping your superiors as part of the company. It is crucial to understand the existence of your position. If you understand it, you will have the benefit of an identity. You understand your role and you should relate it to the one above you and maybe above that one. And if you cannot figure it out, you should ask. This will help you to get a gasp of your companies working ethic and philosophy.

Help your superiors!

Since you know now how to relate yourself to the organisation, you should be able to figure out what your boss favours. It is possible to support him or her now. Within your capabilities, try to help as good as you can without being obediant. You can consider yourself like a person that has to create value for your company and in best case, your boss is the closest connection to the “will of the company”. Usually that is the strategic orientation, the board of directors or any high leveled person has defined. This strategic concept will be splitted in a multitude of tasks that you are coping with on your daily base. 

Thus it makes sense to clarify certain goals each time you meet up and protocol them to nail down where your prioritiesed efforts are going for. If not, you might have to ask to frequently. If the priorities are clear, you will also get a better feeling of what might be important when something new pops up.

Time to lead – suggest the priorities and the how-to

Until now, everything was top-down. So how are you able to lead your boss? You have to specify or supply the way tasks are solved and the priorities bottom up. This is basically the only way you can do it but it is very effective. The loop is like this:

  1. Get or know a problem
  2. Discuss the environment and reasoning of the problem 
  3. Suggest a solution
  4. Define an order of priorities

The first two points are usually timely separated from the last two because you have to know the problem and understand it and then you have to find a way to solve it. The more of this you can do on your own, the more competent you will look. 

The good thing is that your boss will free up capacities and this will make him more satisfied working with you and in general.

Politics – the game of thrones

Unfortunately, you sometimes offer a helping hand and some people tend to take the whole arm. And for them, it might be quite convenient to bring you into a position of being the scape goat. You have to make sure that your company’s philosophy and mindset protects you from blaming. In a good environment, errors are cherished as a possibility to learn.

Another problem can be narcisitic behaviour of your superiors. If they play political games and live by a divide and rule mentality in which you are a pawn on the checkboard. You might not interconnect on any personal level. Which is ok – as long as you are a good pawn. That can help you to climb the ladder but you can be drop, as well.

It might be difficult to help a boss that does not share success. A good boss always pin points downwards the success and cherishes his people for what they did. You can find egocentric persons here quite easily: They do not share power. Try to get away from them, they are poison for everybody’s mindset.

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