Thursday, February 21, 2013

Guidelines to Leading Up

Last semester I began attending monthly meetings with the Graduate Assistant Discussion Group. The group, headed up by Jayne Brownell, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, is in my opinion, a great idea and is something I look forward to each month. The discussion group not only provides us weary Graduate Assistants with an opportunity to share our experiences both as graduate students and graduate assistants, but it allows us to get to know one another, relate to each other and most importantly, gives us an excuse relax and discuss various topics in higher education in an informal environment.

The other week, guest speaker Sara Hinkle, Associate Dean of Student and Community Development, gave an informative presentation and lead a discussion on the concept of “leading up.” Leading up is SO important for all parties involved; you, your boss, and the organization. The idea of “leading up” can be applied to many work environments, but in this instance Sara geared it towards working as a Graduate Assistant.

Sara provided a great quote in her presentation that I feel sums up “leading up” perfectly:

 “[T]he process of consciously working with your boss to obtain the best possible results for you, your boss and your organization” (Zuber & James, in Turk, 2007).

This presentation taught me new approaches to leading up and re-affirmed approaches that I already use. It was informative in so many ways and I believe it will prove to be a beneficial way of thinking going forward. Here are the guidelines for leading up:

2.Provide Solutions-Not Problems
3.Be Honest, Trustworthy, & Professional
4.Understand Your Boss’s Perspective & Agenda
5.Clarify Expectations-Ask the Right Questions
6.Depend on Your Boss’s Strengths
7.Recognize Your Boss’s Weaknesses
8.Request & Accept Feedback
9.Speak Honestly & Frankly
10.Seek & Accept Responsibility
11.Show Appreciation for Your Supervisor!

All of the guidelines are so important but if I HAD to choose a favorite (this was very hard and found myself wanting to just list them all) it would be #3: Be honest, trustworthy and professional. Guideline #3 resonated with me because I think it acts as a foundation for the rest. In my opinion, honesty, loyalty, professionalism, and taking responsibility for your actions (the good and the bad), are the fundamental qualities of a good leader.

What do you think is the most important guideline for leading up?

-Kaitlyn Riley, Graduate Assistant 

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