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Inform Your Commander

Internal Communication
Managing Up
Personal growth

30 May, 2019

Anil Panguluri shares how his boss equipped him with the tool of sharing information and ‘leading up’ to management.

Problem

I was working for three years in a small yet growing company. Things were run relatively flat with little structure and everyone running in their own lanes. This held true for most processes within the organization. For example, there was little structure when my boss would have staff meetings with the product management team. We would discuss projects, bring up issues that had cross-team implications, and discuss new topics of interest that generated ideas, but our boss seemed apathetic about the information. This was no different for the one-on-ones that he and I had. There came a point, though, when the above "process" worked no more and the boss was replaced by a new manager.

Actions taken

The new manager had no relationship nor background in our organization. She was hired externally and was unclear about what she needed to know. She decided that she could trust me to handle giving her the necessary information. She handed me a massive printout from a chapter in a book titled Leading Up by Michael Useem which gave me the direction I needed to effectively communicate information. Where I once felt that I was boring or burdening my boss with too much detail, the chapter "Informing Your Commander" enabled me with the confidence to give my boss all the information she needed to stay informed. Her and I set aside time that allowed us to talk about all of the things I was doing, even if it seemed miniscule. I started to overinform her and I didn't feel silly or small about it. This allowed her to better help me in ways that I had not imagined, from being able to assist with ideas, to listening to the problems I brought to her with context and empathy.

Lessons learned

  • We are taught to be 'CEOs' of our products and to run the line of business as if we are the lone leader. But there are times where we have to lean on our boss to get the resources and support that we need. For that to happen, an investment needs to be made in the form of sharing information.
  • Your boss won't understand the context of your requests and situations if you don't share information with them. This is why that investment is so valuable. If you don't share information you won't get the help and resources you need, thus giving you little success. Without informing your commander you enter a vicious cycle of fruitless conversations within a fruitless relationship.

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