Leadership advice

Leaders, are you easy to manage?

Advice from Jill Geisler, Bill Plante Chair in Leadership & Media Integrity, Loyola University Chicago and Freedom Forum Fellow in Women’s Leadership

“Managing the boss” is a session I often teach in leadership workshops. Knowing how to interact with your manager to get the best results for your ideas, projects, and career is an essential skill.

Some bosses are easier to manage than others. They tend to be more open about their decision-making process, their goals, and their standards. 

  • They tell people how they prefer to get and give information.
  • They explain their work habits (night owl, not-lucid-before-coffee, advance planner) and what that means – or shouldn’t mean – to them.
  • They operate with a degree of consistency that makes them comfortably predictable.
  • They tell people what they stand for and what, to them, is non-negotiable (like diversity, deadlines, honesty, civility).
  • They’re clear about things that aren’t their expertise and why, how and when they rely on others who have those skills. 
  • They provide at least a general understanding of the demands and pressures they’re dealing with, without overburdening the staff, to help people see business realities.
  • They let people know when a decision will be delegated, done by consensus, or has to be the sole responsibility of the leader.
  • They’re clear about their desire to hear about problems, especially those that people have tried without success to resolve on their own.

Managers who share this kind of information make it easier for staff members to get things done. Staff interactions with supervisors are easier because they don’t have to guess or gossip to find out what makes them tick. 

Teams have a handy user’s guide to getting what they need from a manager who understands the importance of helping them succeed.

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