Skip to main content
[dropcap style=”style3″]I[/dropcap]f you’re familiar with the charming motion picture series featuring the Minions,* you probably recognize the powerful lessons they offer in looking after the leader they work for. They always see the positive side of things, are willing to take chances, not held back by fear, and they never, ever give up. They’re extremely loyal in working towards the vision of their boss. Indeed, they work so hard at it that they sometimes inadvertently kill him!

The Minions are great examples of the tenth and final installment of my Ten Deadly Sins of Leadership: “You Don’t Manage Up.” If you haven’t read them all, feel free to download them here.

In essence, “Managing up” means “managing your boss” and, unlike the ill-fated efforts of the Minions, it doesn’t mean such blind obedience that you might lead to his or her accidental death. It means pursuing a healthy and mutually dependent working relationship with the person immediately above you on the corporate ladder.

By definition, your boss is superior and yes, she or he can be difficult, but ultimately, you’re there to make your boss and the company succeed. Managing up is important because it helps you develop the relationship with which to do this. Ideally, it’s a mutual dependency that fosters understanding and productivity. I’ll offer some tips on this but first, allow me to reference another syndicated television show that perfectly illustrates the managing up model.

You’re there to make your boss and the company succeed. Managing up is important because it helps you develop the relationship with which to do this.

If you grew up in the 70s or 80s, you may be familiar with the long-running series M*A*S*H. In that show, Walter “Radar” O’Reilly was but a lowly corporal, yet he was the loyal yin to the yang of two army colonels (Blake and Potter). In his role as an army clerk, O’Reilly exuded patience, understanding, honesty and a deft ability to diffuse difficult situations. Radar was a subordinate, yet he was so resourceful and crucial to operations, the unit couldn’t operate without him. Like the Minions, he seemed indispensable. This is what you need to be in management.

As I mentioned before, this is the last in my series of “Ten Deadly Sins of Leadership.” I promise more insight on other topics in the future, but in the meantime, and without getting too much into psychology, here are six ways to help you “manage up:”

Develop a positive, trusting relationship

Many people spend more time with their boss than their spouse. With that in mind, it will serve you both well to try and get along. You don’t have to be best friends, just positive and mutually respectful.

Anticipate your boss’ needs

This doesn’t mean tripping over yourself to fetch your boss a cup of coffee. It simply means having a good understanding of what’s required and when. “Pat, just a reminder to review the docket before our 4 pm with Widgetco.”

Under-promise and over-deliver

It’s an old one, but a tactic that’s paved the way for many a promotion. Even if you think you can complete the project by the end of June, promise it for the beginning of July.

Don’t be needy

Nothing erodes confidence in a subordinate than one who lacks composure and acuity. Tough decision-making is the domain of those who trust their instinct. If you can’t exhibit this as a junior executive, you’ll never make it to the big leagues.

Take care of it

When a task is delegated, it doesn’t always come with a set of instructions. If it did, the boss would include them. The five magic words that makes a boss appreciate you more than anything are “I’ll take care of it.” The Minions are great examples of subordinates who just go ahead and find a way to do what was delegated to them.

Remain calm under fire

Remember Radar O’Reilly from my M*A*S*H example above? When Major Frank Burns inevitably cracked under pressure, it was Radar who invariably kept his composure. And of course, the Minions are great examples of helpers who not only stay calm under fire, but stay positive as well no matter what kind of pressure they’re under.

Thanks for reading and best wishes for a successful year ahead,


The Minions and their images are protected by copyright from Universal Pictures and Thinkway Toys. The Minion image used for this post is used with permission through editorial licensing from iStock.

Leave a Reply

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.


Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734