Leading Up: When to accept, speak for change or move on…

Sooner or later we will all find ourselves in a situation where we could be leading up…

  • And will will need to choose to either accept what is happening, speak for change, or move on.

Each time I find myself in that situation the words below grow more powerful…

God grant me…

 The serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

The courage to change those I can.

And the wisdom to know the difference..

 Last week I read a very powerful article by Alli Polin that emphasized how leadership thrives when two people work closely together and titles don’t matter.

This is some of what Alli shared in that post…

Number One stands at the front of the room.
Number Two sits in the audience and hears the whispers of what’s really on their minds.

Number One asks for opinions and is often met with silence.
Number Two gets an earful of the real deal.

Number One has an advisor and partner on the journey.
Number Two is empowered and trusted to speak for the team.

I loved her article and shared it on social media. A friend read the article and then asked a question that will resonate with anyone who has ever tried to lead up…

When you are thrown into the number 2 position by others (sharing their feelings, insights, gripes, etc.) and number 1 doesn’t hear/want to hear what the number 2 has to share. What is a suggestion on how to handle this?

If you’ve ever been in that situation you probably think Kenny Rogers nailed it when he sang,

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run…


If you are in a position to lead up 

it takes great courage and wisdom not to just hold, fold, walk and run!

Ask yourself these questions before you do anything:

  1. Do I believe that this is where God has planted me and asked me to bloom?
  2. Am I deeply committed to organization and to the people?
  3. Do I have the same concerns as the people that are coming to me?
  4. Are the people coming to me to complain, to gossip, to seek advice, or are they asking me to represent them?
  5. If I go and speak on their behalf and at some point need them to speak for themselves – will they?
  6. If not – and I speak for them am I enabling them or taking on an issue that really does not matter?
  7. If not – Is this issue so important that I am willing to stand-alone?

If you believe you are planted in this place at this time to make a difference on this issue:

  1. Then be understanding, compassionate, persistent, and truthful.
  2. Learn about the person you seek to influence.  Knowing their learning style, behavioral style, and the keywords that resonate with them increases the likelihood that you will be heard.
  3. Coming with solutions and the willingness to be a part of the recommended solution is critical.
  4. If things don’t go well. Examine the behavior of the only person you can control. (YOURSELF.) Change you behavior, apologize if necessary and try again.

When I asked Alli to weigh in she added, “Sometimes it takes a big moment of courage… To sit down with the number one and say, I don’t think that this is working. I want to make you successful, this project successful… How can we work better together. It doesn’t always work but I’ve had some tough conversations like that before, calling on some big time managing up skills, and in two cases the relationship ultimately blossomed. I’m not going to lie that we’re tight today but I felt like I could offer my best instead of holding back. I was fulfilled.”

In a separate article Art Petty offered this advice,“No business can thrive when key individuals or teams are playing down to a level that resembles mediocrity. …No one can survive and thrive in their career by playing down a level. “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Either refuse to give up…find a way forward…or find a better team to play on.”

How about you?

  • What actions have you taken in the past?
  • What did you learn?
  • What advice would you give?

Related posts:

Why you should invest time leading your boss and how to do itWhy you should invest time leading your boss, and how to do it.

EXPECTATIONS - How low should you go?Are your expectations too low or too high?

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President, Giana Consulting

Chery Gegelman is an adventurer that loves to learn. …Deep conversations, books, travel, and daily living are all food for growth.

As a speaker, facilitator and workshop leader she creates energizing environments that reflect God’s grace, tear down walls, help people to consider new perspectives, and inspire change.

Chery is the Founder of Giana Consulting and Conversation Safari’s, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two leadership books.

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