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  • Laura Johnston

Somehow I manage.........up.

Updated: Mar 5, 2021



We spend almost 95% of our time as leadership coaches to teach how to manage those below us. We almost never talk about how to manage….up.


This term may not mean anything to you if you are a Manager/CEO, but just ask any executive assistant, they will know exactly what I mean! Interestingly enough, almost everyone who has come from that kind of position, will be a much better manager in the long run, than those who have never had to manage a boss’s expectations. A surprising amount of those in a leadership role, typically get there without ever having to be in a position of “managing expectations”, leaving their leadership skills, sorely lacking.


These 3 steps are the ones I’ve discovered that will help you manage….up.



1. Anticipation

a. Learn to anticipate your boss’s needs. Learn to read moods, stressors and avoid them.

b. Knowing triggers about your boss can help you sidestep and present ideas/schedules to avoid this stressor.


2. Managing Expectations

a. Your boss may have expectations that are unreasonable, and most of us suffer from “yes” syndrome……this is dangerous to you and potentially your job.

It’s worth it to say….” I understand what you need, but I cannot have that completed until…. time/date”. Saying no is empowering and allows you to be true to what you are able to complete correctly and do to the best of your ability.


3. Communicating priorities and seeking feedback

a. Communicating your next step desires in your career is very important. Obviously, the day you’re hired at an executive assistant, don’t declare you want to be CEO, but do make it clear that you are looking for a career path and are interested in learning what you need to know to move up in this company.


This passion and goal setting, alerts your superior, that you are interested in a career and not just a job. It sets you apart from your coworkers in a very positive way.


These steps prepare you for your own team someday. You can learn to anticipate your employees individual needs and stressors, manage job expectations and learn how to effectively communicate priorities while providing positive or constructive feedback.


Done effectively, these qualities are what the best leaders possess.

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