# Negotiate Success
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.
# Leading up the Chain of Command
(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.
# Four conversations to have with your boss
Here are some ideas for conversations to have with your boss during your first 90 days.
# Situational Conversation
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.
# Expectations Conversation
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.
If you don’t manage expectations they will manage you.
- Agree on short-term and long-term goals and timing.
- How will your boss measure progress?
- What will constitute success?
- Closely align expectations with your diagnosis of this situation.
- Pinpoint what your boss cares about most and aim for early wins in those areas.
- Check your boss’s perception of what you can and should achieve.
- If your diagnosis of the organization’s problems disagree with your bosses, do your best to reset expectations.
- Bias yourself to under promise achievements and over deliver results.
Clarify expectations. Go back regularly and confirm and clarify expectations to avoid going down the wrong road. Keep asking questions until you’re sure you’re understood. Try asking the same question different ways to gain more insight.
# Style Conversation
Your agenda is to determine how you and your boss can work best together.
How does your boss like to communicate? How often? What kinds of decisions does he want to be involved in, and when can you make calls on your own? Does your boss arrive at the office early and work late? Does he expect others to do the same?
Pinpoint the specific ways in which your styles differ, assess what those differences imply about how you will interact. Suppose you prefer to learn by talking with knowledgeable people, whereas your boss relies more on reading and analyzing hard data. What kinds of misunderstandings and problems might this difference in style cause, and how can you avoid them? Or suppose your new boss tends to micromanage, but you prefer a lot of independence. What can you do to manage this tension?
You may find it helpful to talk to others who have worked with your boss in the past. Naturally, you must do this judiciously. Be careful not to be perceived as eliciting criticism of how the boss leads. Stick to less fraught issues, such as how the boss prefers to communicate. Listen to others’ perspectives, but base your evolving strategy chiefly on your own experience.
Assume building a positive relationship with your boss is 100% of your responsibility. Others who’ve worked with your boss should be able to tell you approaches they found successful.
Surface style differences. When you see a potential issue regarding differences with style raise the issue early. Talk to your boss about how to accommodate both your styles.
Put the focus on results. One proven strategy is to focus your early conversations on goals and results instead of how you achieve them. You might simply say that you expect to notice differences in how the two of you approach certain issues or decisions but that you’re committed to achieving the results to which you have both agreed.
# Personal Development Conversation
What are you doing well and what do you need to do differently? What skills do you need to develop to do the job better? Are there shortcomings in your performance that you need to address? Are there opportunities that you could get involved in that would strengthen your skills without sacrificing focus?