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REACH PERSONAL BRANDING INTERVIEW SERIES – MARCH 2010
Frustration and lack of confidence in America’s CEOs and companies abounds in these economically difficult times. What does that mean for employees, whether middle managers or valued team players? According to John Baldoni, author of “Lead Your Boss”, everyone needs to step into leadership for the greater good of companies and society at large, whether good times or more challenging times.
In his inspiring book, John uses the power of stories and examples to showcase individuals who did just that. By using their natural abilities and skills, positive energy, and personal influence, they were able to accomplish great things by “leading from the middle”. In this Reach Personal Branding Interview with William Arruda, John discussed practical strategies and advice to:
• Think strategically and challenge yourself and your team to be more innovative and
• Cultivate honest feedback for growth and improvement.
• Learn about the 3Cs of working together in a mutually beneficial way.
• Persuade others to listen to your ideas so you can turn influence into leadership.
• Challenge assumptions without challenging the individual.
• Break down resistance to change.
• Turn setbacks into comebacks and increase your resiliency factor.
BIO: John Baldoni is an internationally recognized leadership consultant, speaker, and author of numerous books, including “Lead Your Boss”, “Lead by Example” and “Great Communications Secrets of Great Leaders”. He writes the “Leadership at Work” column for Harvard Business Publishing (syndicated by Bloomberg.com).
John’s articles on leadership have appeared in BusinessWeek.com and FastCompany.com, and he has been featured or quoted in publications such as the New York Times, USA Today, and Investor’s Business Daily. His leadership resource website is www.johnbaldoni.com.
Top 10+ Things to Know about “Lead Your Boss”
Lead Your Boss addresses the fundamental question that all good managers face: how do I influence my boss and peers in ways that will help grow our business.
- “Leading up” is the process of leading your organization from the middle. That means you lead the organization from the perspective of a CEO but with the authority of a less senior leader. Leading from the middle requires a good balance of two distinct disciplines management and leadership.
- Leading up and from the middle requires two things: influence and action. Influence is necessary to open doors so you can be heard. Action is necessary to implement your plan. Those who succeed at leading from the middle are artful and adept managers. They utilize their management skills to establish goals, plan projects, organize people, and execute projects on time and on budget.
- Those who lead their bosses are problem solvers. They see problems and they want to fix them. They seek to make positive change – to make things better. And while they are not in charge of everything, the way a CEO is, they are in charge of some things. That is, they manage their teams and their resources. As such they can achieve good results and get noticed. But more importantly they can look for new horizons, new ways of doing things and seek to change the way things are.
- Managing up is the process of handling things for your boss, that is, when he gets too busy. Leading up is the process of initiating things to do.
- The recent financial meltdown was caused by a failure of leadership at all levels, but chiefly by those at the top who abdicated responsibility. Now is the time for those in the middle, in concert with the aims of the organization, to use their initiative and skills to transform their organizations that are responsive, nimble and honest.
- Those who lead up are those who can think and act strategically. Thinking strategically means thinking about how your actions impact the entire organization. Acting strategically means working collaboratively with your boss and peers to overcome obstacles and effect positive change.
- Influence is the grease that lubricates the gears of the organization to overcome inertia, its natural state. Realistically influence is how things get down.
- When you lead your boss, make certain that what you advocate – be it a new idea, initiative, process or product – meets the vision and mission of the organization. If it does not complement what your organization does then it is wrong and you should not pursue it.
- Leading up is a process; it is an approach to effecting positive change. Organizations may think they enjoy the status quo, but in reality they really don’t. Standing still is an inorganic process; that is, just as organisms are changing so too are organizations.
- Those who lead from the middle are those who are sensitive to the need to change and they lobby hard for it.
- Leading from middle requires a manager to develop spheres of influence within which one is perceived as a person who is accomplished, capable and trustworthy.
- When you disagree with your boss, you find ways to assert your position through the strength of your ideas. You argue on issues, never personality.
- Politics, it has been said, is the art of the possible. Never is this more true than within an organization. For one who leads up it is essential to determine who is with you as well as against you. But often those in the middle without a firm opinion may sway the balance so it is important to cultivate their interests.
- Genuine inspiration comes from accomplished leaders who achieve sustainable results that benefit individuals, teams, and the organization. Those who lead from the middle know how to get employees engaged in the work so they feel they are making a positive contribution.
- Those who lead from the middle are good at engaging the attention of others make a habit of asking others for assistance as well as giving it in return. When performed appropriately asking fosters five things all beginning with the letter “C”: courtesy, comity, cooperation, commitment, community.
- Leading from the middle means learning how to deal with no! In every organization, there are always more people who can and will say no than those who can and will say yes. Leaders seeking positive change need to learn to cope with adversity so they can achieve goals for self and the team.
- Those who lead from the middle today are those that will lead from the top tomorrow. However, they will not act as top down leaders; they will challenge their direct reports to lead up, too.
- In times of crisis, leaders must do three things. One, be heard; communicate clearly and consistently. Two, be seen; spend time with employees so they know you are engaged. Three, be there; let people know you are willing to go the extra mile to help them and the team succeed.
- Senior leaders need to encourage leadership from the middle. Their legacy depends upon developing the next generation of leaders. Good leaders encourage their up and coming leaders to assume more responsibility and to act on their own initiatives, as long as those initiatives are in sync with the mission and goals of the organization.