Many people take the situation at their organization as a given, and fail to proactively engage with their new boss to shape the game in their favor. There is much you can do to build a positive working relationship with your new boss and you should start doing it as soon as you’re being considered for a new role.
Invest in the relationship with your boss after all your boss sets your benchmarks, interprets your actions for the other key players, and controls access to resources you need.
Don’t isolate yourself. Get on your boss’s calendar regularly. Be sure your boss is aware of the issues you face and you are aware of your bosses expectations.
Don’t bring only problems. Bring pitches; not only problems. You don’t need to develop full solutions, but at least can come up with a pitch on how to begin addressing the issues.
Focus on a few key issues. Don’t run through everything you’ve been doing. Cut it down to no more than three things you really need to share or need action on.
Revisit expectations. Confirm and clarify expectations early and often.
Take 100% responsibility for the relationship with your boss. It’s best to assume it’s on your shoulders to make the relationship work.
Negotiate timelines. Buy yourself the time needed to diagnose issues and come up with an action plan. Aim for early wins that matter most. Whatever your own priorities, figure out what your boss cares about most.
Cultivate good marks with those whose opinion your boss respects. Your boss’s opinion of you will be based on direct interaction and also in part on what she hears about you from trusted others.
(adapted from Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin)
One of the most important jobs of any leader is to support your own boss—your immediate leadership. Leadership doesn’t just flow down the chain of command, but up as well. Instead of blaming others and complaining about decisions from above, take ownership of your problems and lead—-this includes leading up the chain of command. If your supervisor isn’t making decisions in a timely manner, or isn’t providing necessary support for you and your team, don’t blame your boss. First, blame yourself. Examine what you can do to better convey the critical information for decisions to be made and support to be allocated. While pushing to make your superior understand what you need, you must also realize that your boss must allocate limited resources and make decisions with a bigger picture in mind. You and your team may not represent the priority effort at that particular time, or perhaps the senior leadership has chosen a different direction. Have the humility to understand and accept this. Take responsibility for leading everyone in your world, subordinates and superiors alike. If someone isn’t doing what you want or need them to do, look in the mirror first and determine what you can do to better enable this.
Here are some ideas for conversations to have with your boss during your first 90 days.
Diagnose the current situation. How did the organization get here? What are the challenges? Your view may differ from your bosses, but it is essential to grasp how she sees the situation.
What does your boss need you to do in this short and medium term? How is success defined? How is performance measured? When? If expectations are unrealistic you may need to reset them by under promising and over delivering.