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How to Lead your Leaders

Managing Up
Internal Communication

30 June, 2020

No stranger to the meaning of team unity, Kowsheek Mahmood, Principal and CTO at Archetype, demonstrates the necessity of aligning goals and explicitly communicating needs.


A common experience that most people have, including myself, is that you begin to antagonize your superiors and start to feel blasé about your work due to mismatched expectations. This tends to happen a lot more with junior teams because they are generally frustrated and have a lot of unsaid animosity.

An aspect of this is that things become stagnant as a result of people not collaborating and moving the ball forward. This is defined by complacency and butting heads against the same problem with no forward action. Teams stop having camaraderie around being on the same team and stop striving for the same goals.


Actions taken

  • First and foremost, you must be aware of the possibility to lead your leaders.
  • Second, you need to realize and communicate that everyone is on the same team.
  • Then, figure out the desires of the superiors and if they aligned with both your immediate goals and the company’s goals.
  • After getting consensus from the team that they were aligned on certain goals, the next step would be to identify our needs in order to achieve those goals that we hadn’t been reaching.

Lessons learned

  • In almost every team I have been on, there has been a pattern of unmet expectations, frustration, and not asking for what you need. Subsequently, that leads to negativity towards leadership because they are the ones asking for things. It’s about observing that pattern, recognizing that it happens, and then embracing it.
  • When you don’t recognize this, it can result in a lot of negative things. The first of which is insubordination, where you don’t care about what your leaders are telling you. The second is, complacency and stagnation, which continues the cycle of negativity.
  • The problem in almost any relationship is that there is a lack of real communication around wants and needs. If the desires of your superiors align with your team goals and those of the company, it means you are on the same team and you have to communicate your needs back to your leaders.
  • People get frustrated when they have to wait for things to transpire. Taking that into account, you have to remove the hurdles causing people to just wait around. You have to explain the why to both the team and leadership while getting communication flowing. That is the key; vocalizing what you need, what you don’t have, and why it is frustrating. You should communicate with measured emotion rather than in a suppressed or explosive way.

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