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Commentary: Leading up

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Leading your boss is integral to create an efficient organization that achieves its goals and delivers results. To lead or take care of your boss is just as important as taking care of your Airmen.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

Leading your boss is integral to create an efficient organization that achieves its goals and delivers results. To lead or take care of your boss is just as important as taking care of your Airmen. To do this effectively, there are three leadership styles I have found that can help you one day, “lead up.” It is essential to know what your boss values, understand his or her vision for the organization, and anticipate concerns and priorities while providing options to allow your boss to make decisions.  

Knowing what your boss values – what makes him or her tick – enables you to facilitate efficiency. If your boss values his or her time in the early morning hours, give them that time. If your boss likes certain administrative actions to be on time, make sure you have your part complete and ready for review early. If your boss values fitness, get you and your team amped up to follow what is important to him or her and get into excellent shape. If you are able to support your boss by meeting and exceeding what they value, you will enable your organization to become proactive, building the foundation for improving the unit and fulfilling the boss’ vision.

Understand your organization’s vision and mission. Interpret and inspire your vision statement. If you can effectively explain your vision to your people, your mission will catapult to an apex level. This success is achieved because everyone in the organization is running in the same direction. Next understand what your mission is. If your team maintains the installation, help your boss out when calls come for you to fix a defunct issue. Trust me; your boss is getting orders from someone who outranks him or her.  

Finally, do your due diligence to anticipate questions while also providing options for the desired way ahead. Appropriately preparing for meetings and briefings allows you to anticipate questions. Similarly, preparing options provides the decision maker choices toward a solution with varying degrees or risk and resource investment taken into consideration. Your options will enable the decision maker to choose from what you have prepared while meeting their criteria for risk and investment. Ultimately, leading your boss to make decisions advances the organization toward achieving its vision and mission.

Taking care of your boss is foundational to achieving mission success. The next time a tasking comes down that you may not agree with, step back and ask yourself this fundamental question - Is it important to your boss, to the unit, and/or to the Air Force?  If you can say yes to any of these, then seize the opportunity and complete the mission.