Leaders don’t like Surprises

by | Jan 13, 2016

When it comes to managing your manager, which may well be managing a leader (or director) there is one thing they keep telling me:

Yet as an employee, or a manager working for someone else we try and hide what is going on. Perhaps you think it will go away, or you may want to fix it before anything happens, or even cover it up? Whatever the reason it is a mistake of junior people to filter important information upwards off the back of trying to be the hero (and fixing it), or for fear of getting into trouble.

In the last few days I have spoken to 4 senior leaders who have all said the same thing. My advice is therefore to share issues that you are aware of, or experiencing and also what you are doing about it.


For example “I thought you should know that this is going on, and I have spoken to Maggie and come up with a plan to resolve it. I should have it fixed by Tuesday”.

Short, simple and elegant. It tells the leader everything they need to know, including when it will be done. If there is something you have missed it also gives your boss something to feedback.

Example: “Remember to run it by Accounts as well, I would suggest Felix”

Remember, leaders like to add value too so even if you had already thought of that you can gracefully accept the support, or let them know you know to do that…”Yep, as always”.

Building a better relationship with someone more senior than you and in particular your boss or leaders in business is critical to you overall success.
Martin Knowles

Martin Knowles


About the author

Martin Knowles has worked in a variety of sectors in Learning and Development roles and Contracts for nearly 20 years (DSGi, PCWorld, Capital One, Linklaters, Veolia, Severn Trent, Rolls-Royce, Diageo, Selfridges). He has authored content, books and articles for managers and aspiring leaders, published work in multiple media and won awards for Best Training and Development in Europe.

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