“Managing up” has become a trendy buzzword at all levels of the corporate ecosystem. Certainly, we all understand the concept of traditional top down management, but what exactly is managing up?

While there are few certainties in the field of management and leadership, one truth that I’ve found over decades of experience is that all managers are not strong, effective leaders. In fact, truth be told, most have significant flaws. What does that look like in the workplace? Well…they don’t always make the best decisions. They miss things. Sometimes, they’re the barrier to success on a project.

Managers typically aren’t closest to the day to day work. So they don’t always understand the details or have the best information. They also frequently don’t know what people are really thinking or how team members really feel about a particular process, issue, or task. Like anyone else, they also sometimes don’t know what they don’t know (unconscious incompetence). So they can have huge blind spots.

While this laundry list of flaws may sound somewhat scary, it also sounds pretty normal because managers are after all human, right? Yes, but unfortunately we’re conditioned to treat them like they’re somehow all knowing and all powerful superheroes with perfect decision making skills. While managers often possess certain strengths and advantages that enable them to make sound decisions, they also often possess certain disadvantages or weaknesses either due to their own personal failings or due to inherent disadvantages in holding a higher level position.

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Sometimes leaders are actually handicapped by their ivory tower position. They may not be as close to the customer or have their ear to the ground in terms of what staff really think or which processes are truly broken. Guess what – they also may not be perfect. They may have their own weaknesses or shortfalls, and…