Executive Coach Executive CoachExecutive Coach
Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

How to Stay Out of the Weeds with Your Boss

ARCHIVES
PhotoXpress

The big idea behind my book, The Next Level, is that to get different results, leaders take to different actions. That usually involves picking up some new skills and mindsets and letting go of others even if they used to work for you in the past. For instance, one of the nine pick up and let go distinctions in the book is pick up accountability for many results and let go of responsibility for a few results. It’s the difference between owning it and doing it.

A lot of leaders struggle with this one because it calls for letting go of a personal mastery of all the details and focusing instead on putting the systems and processes in place that allow them to monitor progress without being deep into all the weeds themselves.

A question I often get from the high potentials in our Next Level Leadership® group coaching program is “I’d like to let go of the details, but my boss is always asking for them. How do I handle it?” The answer, like so many things in life, is it depends. Last week, while conducting a panel discussion for a client company, I had the opportunity to ask a corporate vice president how he handles this issue with his boss.

His answer had a lot of wisdom in it. He told the audience that “how much detail you give you boss is directly proportional to the level of detail your boss’s boss needs.” He went on to share a few tips about how to get in tune with those needs. Here they are:

Establish a process – Take time to set up a process with your boss for how and when you’re going to communicate. Identify what needs to be covered on a regular basis. Talk about the kinds of issues that always need to be flagged outside of the regular rhythm. Get clear about your boss’s preferred communications channels.

Understand the metrics – Make sure you know and understand the metrics that your boss’s boss pays the most attention to. Be proactive in providing your boss information on performance against those metrics. Highlight what’s going well. Flag any potential problems and what you and your team are doing to mitigate them. Remember, business leaders almost never like surprises.

Think “as if” – Put yourself in your boss’s shoes. Think as if you were them. What conversations is she likely to have with her boss? (By the way, just about every leader has a boss no matter how high they are on the org chart.) What does her boss care most about? Reverse engineer back from your boss’s boss perspective to make sure you get the details your boss needs.

What all three of these tips have in common is they call for proactive rather than reactive behavior. If you wait to be asked for the details, you’re almost always going to feel like you’re behind the curve. Figure out what’s important to your boss’s boss and get ahead of the game.

What are your best tips for staying out of the weeds with your boss?

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.