Magazine article Online

Managing Up

Magazine article Online

Managing Up

Article excerpt

In my January column ("Choose Your Future," January/February 2000, pp. 64-66), I mentioned characteristics of individuals who are successfully navigating the changes surrounding their information centers. You'll recall:

1. They go through the eye of the needle. They look their fear in the eye and say, okay, so what? How do I get over it? What's the worst that can happen? This is a chance to learn, thrive in chaos, and have some fun.

2. They do more than follow the golden rule, they get what they want by influencing their constituents to get what they want -these info pros show their management, internal customers, employees and peers how what the info pro is doing or wants is in their constituent's best interest. In other words, they influence from the eye of the beholder and consciously do so in order to get what they want.

3. They have no trouble saying no. The successful individuals we see don't over commit and under deliver, nor do they over commit and kill themselves in the process. They have clear boundaries, understand what they will and won't do well, and lead accordingly.

4. They take personal responsibility and hold themselves accountable for their own success. They focus on themselves and recognize, gracefully, that their actions will inspire others, or not. They are okay with who they are and their behavior will be the mirror whose reflection inspires change in others. They're confident, that's enough. They don't worry about "fixing or blaming" other people.

5. They are business people first, proactively competing in their markets, leading and managing as would any other executive in their firm.

There are several other traits that I've noticed over the past several months and they're worth adding to the list: 1) they analyze incoming information and critically assess what it means and the implications to them, their teams, and their company; 2) they're creative, what some call "out of the box" thinkers; and 3) they do all of the above especially well when it comes to managing "up."


What's managing up got to do with anything? Well, in a way it's got to do with everything. Every day I see information professionals who are professionally astute with excellent technical knowledge and skills. They also understand many of the day-to-day end-users of their services and have an excellent pulse on their market needs. But when I ask about what matters to the execs, either those they ultimately report to, or the decision-makers that their customers report to, what too often comes back is a long pause or blank stare followed by a somewhat hesitant "I don't know," or "Gee, I guess I've never asked."

Bottomline, it'll be hard to remain successful long term without knowing what matters to this group and how you contribute to or address the things they value. Frankly, if you don't ask, you'll be operating in a perilous dark.

Most senior level execs landed in their positions because of something they've done well along the way. Whether their daily actions are sometimes grist for the Dilbert mill or not, the reality is that they have been and are chartered with accomplishing business objectives that are meaningful to the organization. Those business objectives usually involve one or more of the following: improving operational excellence, improving product to market excellence or creating or improving customer intimacy. In doing all of this, they must remain abreast of external forces impacting their ability to complete these objectives.

These business objectives are measurable and executives often get to where they are because they can marry vision (either someone else's or their own) with the ability to get things done, and done in a measurable way. In other words, somewhere along the line they've exhibited the behaviors I describe in my list mentioned earlier. And if they're this way, they're going to expect you to be this way, and will likely respect you and support your success as a result. …

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