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Does Your Boss Manage Up or Down?

Does your boss "kiss up" to make themself successful or "kiss down" to make you successful?

About thirty years ago when I was in full time practice as a clinical psychiatrist I would occasionally refer some of my patients to a well-known university psychiatric hospital for in-patient hospitalization.  It was rare at that time to get a “thank you” from that hospital for the referral and on many occasions they would keep the patient after discharge and refer them to one of their own clinics without contacting me (they have since changed their ways).

On one occasion I complained to my wife about this who astutely and wisely and in no uncertain terms responded with, “This idea you have of trying to win the respect, appreciation and approval from that university, which is much more concerned with getting patients from you to fill their beds and clinics than appreciating you is ludicrous.  In fact for every place or person you see as above you that you are trying to get respect, appreciation and gratitude from --- while they are busy looking after their own rear end --- there are many people including your friends, your family, your kids, me and your patients who look up to, admire, appreciate and even love you who just hope that you don’t turn into a ‘kiss up’ opportunist who only cares about getting ahead.”

That turned my head around and I never turned back.  It has also given me a keen appreciation of leaders and managers who focus on motivating, inspiring and setting their subordinates up for success and a disdain for those who manage up, focusing almost entirely on what they can do to curry favor with their superiors while treating those below poorly.

I don’t think it is wrong to want to please the people above you, especially those who will give you your performance reviews and determine whether you are promoted and get a raise or the reverse.  It only makes sense that you shouldn’t ignore that.  That’s not politics, that’s common corporate sense.

The issue I have is with those managers and leaders who manage up exclusively and whose approach to their subordinates ranges from taking them for granted, having no idea what they may be going through in their lives beyond their function to downright abuse and even speaking derisively about them behind their backs.  That I find heinous, hideous and repulsive.

It was observing the extent of greed, ego, selfishness and sole preoccupation with a serving a personal agenda AND treating those below them so poorly that contributed to my Co-Founding Heartfelt Leadership a Global Community whose Mission is “Daring to Care” and carrying out that mission by Identifying, Celebrating, Developing, Supporting, Empowering, Impassioning and Emboldening Heartfelt Leaders to Change the world for the Better.

At the very least it’s for leaders and managers who dare to be fair and helpful to those below them as much as those above them.

What kind of boss do you have?  Do they manage up much more than they manage down and if they do, what effect does that have on you? What kind of boss are you?

 On the other hand, what effect would it have on you if you have a boss who would stand up for you when you can’t and even take a bullet for you in public, stand by you in a crisis and not let you fail, stand up to you in private to push you to do things you didn’t think you were capable of and stand up to you to stop you from doing something foolish that you would regret?

And if you are fortunate to have such a boss, have you taken time to appreciate them and express your gratitude by giving them a Power Thank You?  If so, you might want to do that rather than take if for granted, because you’ve got a very special boss.

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