Drawing on the extraordinary experiences of real people, Useem shows us what happens when those not in charge rise to the challenge, and also what happens when those who should step forward fail to do so.
Leading up is not the same as managing up. Managing up is running the office; leading up is taking the reins and exceeding what's expected. As hierarchies everywhere shed much of their rigidity, upward leadership at all levels becomes more possible - and more necessary. Leading Up is a call to action. It asks us to build on the best in everybody's nature, and it offers a pragmatic blueprint for doing so.
Executive Producer: Karen DiMattia
Producer: John McElroy
Original jacket design: Jennifer O'Connor
Original jacket photograph: Kamil Vojnar/Photonica
©2001 Michael Useem
(P)2001 Random House, Inc.
"Teaching your boss is the most important thing that anyone in business, government, or the nonprofit world needs to know. Leading Up is a must-read for everyone." - (Leonard Lauder, chairman, The Estee Lauder Companies, Inc.)
I have been through various leadership schools in the military and private sector but nobody ever talked about the need of leading your leaders. This book provides anecdotal accounts of figures in political and military history whose ability to lead up determined the fates of countless others. This book is a broad brush view into the area of how leaders can effectively manage the ones they are tasked with following. I think this is a good read for anyone in management or with a desire to get there.
If you enjoy very long-winded stories about people placed in challenging situations calling for leadership (with heavy emphasis on military and political leaders, vs. business), then you may enjoy this. But if you're looking to cut to the chase and get more than the most obvious, common-sense suggestions -- e.g., keep your boss in the loop; build lateral support for your initiatives -- then look elsewhere. Also, the author only relays stories about others; we learn nothing about his background, credentials, or first-hand experiences.
Actually this book is a bit of a difficult case. There are not too many books on the subject of "upward leadership" and that made me get it. The book contains a lot of interesting and relevant text with bits of distilled wisdom, which are relatively few considering the length.
The book is based on one business story per chapter, which is used to demonstrate (or, rather, illustrate) a particular lesson in leading up. While this makes it a longer book the stories are far too extensive, detailed, repetitive for my taste and - that's probably a bigger flaw - anecdotal and potentially prone to flawed conclusions. The slightly too dramatic presentation is acceptable and clear, even though this is not a mystery novel.
The points made are still very valid, though a larger and more diverse set of real-world examples would have been a stronger basis for separating the general from the circumstantial.
The tension between the two opposing poles of "respect and serve your boss" and "get any help you can to circumvent your higher-ups" is essentially not addressed and I could not really find elements of insight on that matter. However, since this is a very difficult aspect of leadership my expectation was not high, so I don't consider that a substantial flaw - you might see that differently of course.
In summary: Very good material which I liked overall, though an abridged version of three hours or so would have been better for me.
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