Leading Up

Leaders today face the challenge of influencing people from all sides of an organization. John C. Maxwell, In his book 360 Degree Leader, explained the principles using which how middle managers leverage their unique positions and become 360-degree leaders by exercising influence in all directions–> lead up(to the boss), –> lead across(among their peers), –> and lead down(to those they lead) in addition to lead self (self-leadership).

360 Leadership Compass

In this article, I would like to focus on the concept of Leading Up. According to John C. Maxwell to attain leading up mindset, first, we need to come out of the below myths #

  • I can’t lead if I am not at the top
  • When I get to the top, then I will learn to lead
  • If I were on the top, then people would follow me
  • When I get to the top, I will be in control
  • When I get to the top, I will no longer be limited
  • I can’t reach my potential if I am not the top leader
  • If I can’t get to the top, then I won’t try to lead

Lead yourself :

In order to lead up first, you need to lead yourself exceptionally well. Lead yourself. That’s where it all starts. Besides, if you wouldn’t follow yourself, why should anyone else? Once you start doing it you would soon realize that this will be one of your greatest challenges. If you lead yourself well, then you will earn the right to lead others.

Lighten your leader’s load :

Leading up is the process of influencing a leader. This process includes lightening the leader’s load by being willing to do what others won’t while knowing when to push forward and when to back off.

Many managers with leadership responsibilities feel that because they are not the main leader, that they cannot influence their bosses. One of the most commonly asked questions is:  How do I lead when I’m not in charge? You do not have to be in charge in order to lead. It’s the biggest myth about leadership. If you’re on the front lines, you see things others don’t—you have a unique perspective. You have ideas that could make a big difference. You are thinking of solutions to problems some people don’t even know exist. Leading up will not only help your organization, but it will eventually help you.

You can think of lightening your leaders load by means of doing the following:

  • Do your own job well first
  • When you find a problem, if possible provide a solution
  • Tell leader what they NEED to hear, not what they WANT to hear
  • Go the second mile
  • Stand up for your leader whenever you can
  • Always go the extra mile
  • Always show in spite of attitude rather than instead of attitude
  • Ask your leader how you can lift the load.

Your ability to lead up NOW will help determine your ability to move up LATER. It doesn’t matter which position you are currently in the organization, leading up will open doors for more influence in your organization in the future. Organizations won’t excel without honest upward communication.  Lighten your leader’s load. Find something that needs to be done and do it. The best team members don’t need to be told what to do because they intuitively find important things to do.

Honor your leaders:

Leading up can be risky. If you lead in the wrong way, you can get some negative labels and lose personal power. Honour your leaders publically results in getting an opportunity to influence them privately. If you want to be over people, you need to learn to be under them.

If you don’t feel a sense of honour for the person who is above you, they are going to sense it through you. One day, If you want to be OVER others, then you need to learn to be UNDER others and show honour from where you are now.  Well, you may say that my leader is not amazing and if I work for a great leader it is easy for me to show honour. Please don’t get confused between honour and respect. Respect is earned. Honour is given. We simply honour those in authority over us. You should accept that they are in that position because they are supposed to be there. Therefore show your influence by serving them and helping them rather than being critical about them all the time.  Still, if you feel like you can’t honour your boss then it’s better if you consider doing everyone a favour by going somewhere else where you can show honour. Here is what I know, without honouring UP we can’t lead UP.

Value Leaders Time:

If you are going to lead up, make sure the time is right. Value their time. Schedule a meeting, and keep it short and focused. Have a written agenda. If you’re leading up, it shouldn’t be to make yourself look better, or to be a hero, or to make someone else look stupid. Your only motivation to lead up should be to push the mission forward. Some leaders are moody. You can’t change who someone is. Be aware of your leader’s mood and then go on with your day like normal. The best thing you can do for your leader’s mood is to act as you normally do. Be the consistent force they can rely on. Don’t let your leader’s mood affect you. You have no idea what they are dealing with after hours.

Don’t just point out problems; bring solutions. Your leader would rather hear someone who has potential solutions than hearing about problems. Even if your idea isn’t perfect, it often evolves to a better solution. If you have only a critical spirit, you’ll never have an upward influence.

Always be honest and think critically :

Always remember that there is a world of difference between thinking critically and being critical. If you’re a yes-man, you will lose credibility. Truth always trumps flattery. The more successful you become, the more difficult it is to find people who will tell you the truth. Those who care enough to tell you the truth are incredibly valuable. Tell leader what they NEED to hear, not what they WANT to hear

Finally :

As a leader, we must do everything we can to give opportunities for others within our organization to allow them to lead up. We should never penalize them for telling the truth. Instead, give them public credit for bringing good ideas, taking initiative, and putting the organization first. Saying you don’t care what your team thinks is unacceptable! If you say you don’t care what your team thinks, either you have the wrong people or you are the wrong leader. Change the people around you or change your mindset. If you don’t listen to them, you will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.

Always remember you don’t go into an opportunity, you GROW into an opportunity.  Good leaders in the middle make better leaders at the top. 


  • 360 Degree Leader – John C. Maxwell
  • Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast
  • The Art of Managing Your Boss Podcast – Wharton University


Common sense Leadership Strategies

Common sense Leadership Strategies

Remember Everyone in the organization is Important:

Every team member is important in the organization. Every player has value but not every player has got equal value. An experienced person may have the gift of wisdom/experience as there is no shortcut to achieving wisdom. Sometimes the amount of time spent in an organization tends to equal to wisdom.  But the downside of it according to Andy Stanley is the longer time spent in the organization erodes awareness. In other words the longer we are in an organization, we tend to stop seeing the problems and just accept them.

This is where a new team member would be incredibly valuable. So you need to tell your new team members that they are really valuable in the early days. Because they will never be more objective than they are soon after joining the organization. That is why I tell our new team members often that first 45 days in the team is when they are going to be most objective before they start accepting things as they are. So we want them to know that every team member has value. We are going to learn from the senior’s experience and we are also going to learn from rookies fresh perspective and together everyone gets better.

The most important thing we should do at our workplace is to

  • Hire them right
  • Train them right
  • Treat them right

I want to see my staff attending office every morning not because they have to but because they want to. Because we make them feel that they know they matter because of the way they are treated, respected, involved and listen to. During my initial days of leadership, I often wonder how can I do that? Later I learned that the best way to ensure people matter to us is to just tell them.  Common sense right? You love your wife and you just tell her and your life will get a lot better !! You love your kids and parents and you just tell them. It’s easy.

Begin with the end in mind:

As a leader, one of the most important skills that we can develop is identifying, empowering and developing the right people. Nothing more important than who you bring in through the front door to work for your company. Who do you hire? We need to get that right. We need to be careful about it. If we get this wrong every day we have to deal with bad attitudes, non-performers and all kinds of bad things and negativity.

The potential of your organization rests on the strengths of its people. You can have the best product, best strategy, or best vision, but without the best people, your organization will always be limited!

Jim Collins said it this way: “People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”

Zig Ziglar says “You don’t build a great business, you build people then people build the business”.

Craig Groeschel says “You don’t need a large, successful organization to attract great people. You need a vision worth following.”

When you’re writing a job description, be clear about what type of person you want—don’t just list duties, list characteristics the person needs to have. This one sounds simple, but many of us overlook it. A general idea of what you want won’t help you fill a specific role. We always hire for the future and not for the present.

I always look within our organization before looking outside. If you want to guard the culture, hire from within as often as possible.

Be Ruthless:

The best time to fire someone is before you hire them. Making no hire is better than making a bad hire. The cost of hiring a bad team member is greater than the cost of missing a good one. Wrong hires recruited early will make it more difficult to make great hires later into the team.

We have the most rigorous selection process with multiple rounds. Why so rigorous? Because we won’t settle for anything but the best people!! My interview questions all fall under four main categories: skill, value, behavior, and character. In my experience, most companies only focus on skill and character. The best predictor of future success is past success. You can learn a lot from the past.  If you find someone who is crazy talented but has vastly different values or behavior’s, they’re not a great fit! Make sure you ask questions geared toward your core values and don’t be afraid to put candidates in real-life situations to test them. If they don’t have the skills yet, but they fit your values, go all-in!

Try reverse-interviewing to help prospective employees understand the job expectations and ensure the job is a match for them. The prospect interviews the people who would be their colleagues about the job, the culture and anything else they’re interested in. The employees being interviewed don’t ask questions but focus on responding to the prospect. These sessions usually last 30-45 minutes.

If possible, give candidates an opportunity to test the job for a day. To ensure that prospects truly understood what the job would be like and what it would feel like to work in the office with their new colleagues, after receiving an offer and prior to accepting they are invited to shadow someone in the role and ask questions. The goal is to give the prospect a truly realistic representation for what the work will be like before they accept the offer. This reduces miscommunication about the job.

Never hire someone out of desperation and I have learned this the hard way after making few mistakes. Be careful when you find yourself talking yourself into hiring a candidate. When you see something that concerns you about a candidate, don’t try to make excuses for them—dig in! If the right person isn’t there, it’s not the right time to hire. Once you complete your hiring create magic with training and it will help you make your people your brand.

Bill Hybels in his Courageous Leadership book says  “Hire people for their character, competency & chemistry”

  • Character – What do they stand for
  • Competency – Knowledge, skills, and tools to get the job done
  • Chemistry – Do I like this person?

Do not ever underestimate the value of Chemistry. If you like their character and competency and don’t like them then I suggest not to make the hire because chemistry matters too.

According to Warren Buffet, we should look for integrity, intelligence, and energy while recruiting someone into the organization. He says without the first one the other 2 will kill you. Patrick Lencioni in the book the ideal team player says to recruit people who are hungry, humble and smart.

Burn the free fuel:

John Maxwell says a man does not live on bread alone, sometimes he needs a little buttering up. No matter what each one of us says everyone needs appreciation, recognition and encouragement.

Appreciation – Recognition – Encouragement. That to me is the fuel that drives human performance. Ask the below questions to yourself.

  • Do you want to be appreciated? – Yes
  • Do you want to be recognized? Absolutely
  • Do you want to be encouraged? Yes by all means

The number one reason why people leave companies is that they do not feel valued. That is why as a leader I have a rule in appreciating people. My rule goes like this.  What I want to do is to appreciate more than I  think I should. Appreciate more than I think I should and then double it. Never rob your team member of the blessing of knowing that you notice and you care.

Finally in Craig Groeschel words….

When the leader gets better  everyone gets better

Remember, you don’t have to know it all to be a great leader! Be yourself. People would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.


  1. Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast
  2. Creating Disney Magic Podcast with Lee Cockerell
  3. Courageous Leadership – Bill Hybels
  4. Ideal Team player – Patrick M. Lencioni

Types of Leaders

Types of Leaders

This article identifies different types of leaders and the followers they create. In addition to this, it also mentions how each kind of leader can grow.

 Negative Leaders

  1.  Unpredictable leaders produce hesitant followers. If you ever have the misfortune of working for an unpredictable leader, you never know what they’re going to do next. Since you don’t know what to expect, you inevitably become hesitant, fearful, and tentative. It’s impossible for the team to find consistency. If you think you might be an unpredictable leader, work on consistency. When you say the same thing over and over again as a leader, that builds trust. When your actions are consistent with your words that build trust. Consistency matters in leadership. People would follow a leader rather with a consistently average plan than a leader with a great plan, bad plan or a mediocre plan that changes all the time. Successful people do consistently what normal people do occasionally. Don’t be an unpredictable leader.
  2.  Domineering leaders produce compliant followers. These leaders will have the attitude of my way or highway or because I said so that’s why or we are going to do what I want to do or your voice doesn’t matter. Finally, This is the way it is going to be. Domineering leaders create week teams. These types of leaders will intimidate or threaten people into following them. This might produce short-term results, but long term, they can be devastating. Domineering leaders foster a culture of ‘yes’ people. They might get compliance, but not commitment. The bigger your organization gets the more people are likely to fear you. Be intentional about not bullying your team or organization. Ask questions and really listen. A good rule of thumb is to ask ten times more questions than you give directions. Getting the insight and the wisdom from your team matters more than you can imagine. If you are the only one bringing direction, ideas, you will be the ceiling on your organization.
  3.  Secretive leaders produce guarded followers. If you as a leader, keep all the information or there are just a few people at the top know what’s going on then what we are doing is that we are communicating to people that we don’t trust the people that are serving our organization. And the reality is if we don’t trust them then how in the world can we expect them to trust us? If your people are guarded, they’re not going to give you feedback. And if they don’t give you feedback, your days as an effective leader are numbered. That’s why transparency, vulnerability, and honesty are so important for leaders. Simon Sinek said it this way: “A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.” Be sure to use this as an opportunity to identify where you are and use it as an opportunity to have an honest conversation with your team. As leaders, we only see the organization in one direction. The people that are on the front lines are thinking about solutions to the problems that we do not even know exist. We have to engage their minds, their heart and their commitment to contribute to the organization or we are always going to be limited by what we know and what we can do. As a leader, if you are surrounded by people that cannot or will not tell the truth, your days of effectiveness are very numbered. We need to be transparent and we need to be vulnerable. We need to be honest when we communicate the information so that people can trust you. So we need to refuse to be secretive in our leadership. One of the biggest problem in a growing organization is that we tend to assume that people know everything. We should never assume. Communicate, communicate and communicate. The more they know the more they care.
  4.  Passive leaders produce disengaged followers. If there’s a problem everyone can see, but the leader doesn’t fix it, eventually the problem is not the real issue—it’s the leader. In other words, when a leader doesn’t address the problem, the problem is no longer the problem. The problem becomes the leader. If a leader doesn’t care, the team isn’t going to care and they will become disengaged. Acknowledging the problem is the first step to overcoming passivity. If you’ve been a passive leader, start by doing something. If you find yourself being more passive right now, it might be because you are discouraged, you feel overwhelmed, might be because you feel slightly helpless or might be because you don’t know what to do. But if you are a leader, you are the one capable of making changes. If you are not supposed to be the leader, I believe you would be replaced as a leader. As a leader, it is your job to make changes. It’s OK to admit I don’t know what to do, I am not even sure what step to take next? Acknowledging the problem is the first step to overcome passivity. Then start doing something about it. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. Once there is forward momentum, it’s easier to adjust a moving car than it is one just sitting stillAn average plan is better than no plan.

 Positive Leaders

  1. Healthy leaders produce faithful followers. Instead of being unpredictable, a healthy leader has a clear vision. Instead of being domineering, a healthy leader listens and collaborates. Instead of being secretive, a healthy leader is transparent and trusting. Instead of being passive, a healthy leader is active. A healthy leader is engaged daily in the organization. If you work for a healthy leader, you’re going to want to follow, sacrifice, and give your best. The next type of leader, however, is a step beyond healthy.
  2.  Empowering leaders don’t just produce followers, they produce other great leaders. Empowering leaders are going to do all the things a healthy leader does, and then do more. Empowering leaders are not focused on themselves. Instead, they empower people with the ability to say ‘yes’ to opportunities and vision. If people deep within the organization have the ability to say ‘yes,’ you have an empowering culture. People often ask how do you get and keep great staff members? I say you don’t just get them, you build them. You don’t find them, you mould them. The way you keep them is by giving them significant leadership responsibilities. If you just tell them to do what I tell you to do, they are going to be followers. I always tell team members that as a leader you can have control or you can have growth, but you cannot have both. If we delegate tasks, we are actually creating followers. We are creating people that only know how to do what we have directly asked them to do. That’s why as leaders we don’t just delegate tasks, instead, we delegate authority. If we delegate tasks we are creating followers but if we delegate authority we are creating leaders. Listen, if you wonder why you don’t keep some of your great employees. I will tell you why you don’t keep some of them. Because you have not let them soar. You have been a lid on them. You have told them what to do but you haven’t given them the freedom to create. When they create they don’t always get it right. But they learn and get better. As leaders we are going to do is that we are going to make decisions that only we can make and we are going to delegate the other decisions deeper into the organization. The better you become as a leader the fewer decisions you make. Your favourite words should be: “I trust you.”, “I believe in you.”, “You decide.”

 Remember you don’t have to know it all to be a great leader. Be yourself. Why, because people would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.

 If you have a team, then gather them and ask these questions:

  1. How unpredictable am I as a leader?
  2. What are one or two things I can do to build trust with predictability?
  3. Am I ever domineering? or How am I domineering?
  4. What can I do to make sure everyone has a chance to offer their wisdom?
  5. What are the 3 things that I could share that will help people feel valued and care more about our mission?
  6. Ask them what do you not know that you want to know?
  7. How deep into our organization have we empowered people to say yes?

 Resources: Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast

Are you managing your time or priorities?

Manage Your Priorities

One of the growth area’s that I have identified for myself during this year is time management, in other words, getting grip on my time as much as possible. Family time, work-life balance, conducting meetings without fail, honouring others time, starting and stopping meetings on time, working on important things rather than urgent things and investing my best in what matters the most, creating and guarding the organization culture and building strong leaders are few focus areas for now. This article reflects some of my learnings and insights to date and thoughts that I have developed after reading a few books and listening to some of the great leaders.

Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Everyone’s busy these days and life shows no sign of slowing down.  I don’t think we can manage time because it goes on. However, to make the best use of the time you don’t manage time but you manage yourself and your priorities. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have. Time stewardship is perhaps a leader’s greatest responsibility. In the words of Peter Drucker, “Nothing else distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time.

Time is our most valuable, non-replenishing resource. We can always make more money, but we cannot make more time. If we would like to have a strong marriage, raise strong and grounded children and have a most satisfying professional career then we must learn to use our time wisely. Effective use of time is one of life’s most important skill and the problem is that formal education don’t teach this generally and most of the parents rarely model the time management for their kids. Poor time management results in well-intentioned leaders who consistently allow the urgent to overwhelm the important. Chances are you know someone like this or chances are you may be someone like this. Have you ever felt like there are so many things to do? Do this and this and this and all are urgent. We can’t get to important things since the urgent things overrule the important things. As long as urgent overrules the importance we will never be effective as leaders.

Schedule your values. Prioritize what is most important to you in your calendar. Good time management doesn’t mean you do more, it means you do more of what matters most.  Let me repeat this so that you can internalize it better -Good time management doesn’t mean you do more, it means you do more of what matters most.  It means you are doing more things which don’t matter to you and less of things which do matter to you. You may say the family is important to me and I would like to have a good time with my kids but you are overwhelmed with work. You may be thinking so long that you wish you could read but you are overwhelmed with other things. You will get frustrated  If you are not doing the things you value the most. In other words, the difference between the values you embrace and the life you live equals the frustration you experience.

Determine your incontestable Items —they go on the calendar first. Invest your best in what matters most. Always remember we all have time to do what we choose to have time to do. You are in control of everything. You make the choices. Chances are many of us are doing a lot of things we don’t have to do. So what are your non-negotiable or incontestable items? Workouts? Family? Meeting with leadership team? Creating and guarding the culture? Identifying, equipping and empowering leaders?

Identify the activities you value. The greatest time management tool from the 19th century economist Vilfredo Pareto. The Pareto Principle states that if we devote our energy, time, and resources to the top 20% of our priorities, we’ll achieve 80% of the results we desire. The Pareto principle also is known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. It means 20% of what you do accounts for 80% of your nonnegotiables. Hence invest your best in what matters the most.

Increasing our margin time. The margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating. It is the opposite of overload. Margin time is very important since your best ideas happen during this time. When you are rushed and every activity seems so urgent then you don’t have time to reflect or dream or think big. Best ideas always come from margin time.  Hence we need to protect our margin time.

  • Try to have the impromptu meetings in someone else’s office. Because if they are in your office it is hard to get them to leave. But if you go to their office as soon as you are done you can walk out
  • Limit the length of your appointments. Tell them up front how long you can spend time for this meeting. Be honest and real about it and stick to the timelines.
  • Don’t take calls or text during the day. Avoid them as much as possible so that your momentum would not breakdown.
  • Validate and reduce your meeting times and frequencies

Say ‘NO’ to many small things to say ‘YES’ to a few big things. People don’t pay for average. If your skill level is a 2, don’t waste substantial time trying to improve because you’ll likely never grow beyond a 4. However, if you’re a 7in an area, hone that skill, because when you become a nine, you’ve reached a rare level of expertise. As Jim Sundberg says, “Discover your uniqueness; then discipline yourself to develop it.”

Identify your major time wasters and work to eliminate them. Everyone falls prey to certain time wasters, based on personality or work habits. Use your time log to discover yours. Then target and try to eliminate one each week. We are living in an era where we need to start maintaining to don’t list besides a to-do list to avoid all the distractions offered by technology.

The barrier to a meaningful life for most leaders is not a lack of commitment but overcommitment. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re doing the right things. If you are an entrepreneur or in a start-up space then you get a lot of ideas. Just because you have a good idea doesn’t mean it’s the right idea. The question that we want to ask is should we do this instead of can we do this?  Just because you can do something does not mean you should do something. Do the things which give you the highest return on your time and energy investment.

Create virtual deadlines for increased effectiveness. Setting these deadlines forces you to make decisions and tackle projects more aggressively. People move more quickly when a deadline is closer. Virtual deadlines help you do three things: make decisions faster, delegate what others can do, and eliminate what you shouldn’t be doing in the first place. You’ll get better results with less effort.

Delegation is the key. If you delegate tasks, you’ll build followers who only do what they’re told. If you delegate authority, you’ll build leaders. You don’t find great leaders—you build great leaders. How do you keep great leaders? You let them lead. The less you do has a big impact on your organization, and that is the same with an organization as a whole. The best organizations do a few things, and they do them well.

I am sure you will agree when I say that the crucial parts of the flight are the take-off and landing. They’re the most dangerous, and the most complicated. As a leader, you have an opportunity to involve yourself in the most important milestones of the project. Therefore, the best way of delegation is following the 10-80-10 Principle. For any project, divide the total process (100%) into the first 10%, the middle 80%, and the last 10%. Then, involve yourself in the first and last 10%. The middle 80% should be carried by your team. You add value to the first 10% in order to get the project started on the right track. Then you hand it off to the team. Later you interact a little bit with them, but not much. It’s really your team’s baby. After the team has taken the project almost to completion, you dive back in again to validate the final outcome and find ways to add value in the final 10%.

Heartsill Wilson said, “God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it – or use it for good, but what I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it!” When you open your eyes tomorrow morning, remind yourself that it holds incredible possibilities. You can allow that day to slip away from you, or you can use it to make things happen. The choice is yours.


  • What are the things you value most that you are not doing?
  • What are you going to do to change it?
  • What do you need to add to your “to-don’t” list? What are your three most important issues that have been crowded out by urgent issues?


  • Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast – It’s about time Part 1 & 2
  • Get a Grip on Time by Dan Rockwell @ American Management Association
  • John C Maxwell Blog
  • Success: One Day At A Time – John C Maxwell