What does it mean to lead up in leadership?Just 4 min read

What does it mean to lead up in leadership? How can leaders lead up? What are some of the examples of leading up? Are some of the questions we are going to explore in this short blog.

This blog will be primarily aiming to answer What does it mean to lead up?


What does it mean to lead up in leadership?

“Leading up is the act of working with people above you – whether one boss, several bosses, a chief executive, a board of directors or even stockholders – to help them and you get a better job done,” says Useem, author of the book, Leading Up: How To Lead Your Boss So You Both Win.

We have known all leadership concepts, styles and theories to manage people down while lead up is more about leading your superior.

In this VUCA world organizations have changed and so does the traditional hierarchy in the organization.

You may have multiple bosses now, or may be already having, to grow in the career. We all ask what does it mean to lead up in leadership?


Leading up does not mean only informing whatever is happening in the organization to management, it is more of providing practical insights and suggesting solutions to the management.

It also does not mean taking up the role of fault finder and running up to the management with problems and the solution, it also means being able to forecast the problem and preparing management for them.

In the book Leading Up: How To Lead Your Boss So You Both Win, author Useem gives deep insight about what does it mean to lead up in leadership? And how can you lead up? 

I recommend all budding leaders or first time managers to read this book and grow in career while leading up your superiors.

How to lead up in leadership?

Once we have understood what does it mean to lead up in leadership? Now let’s understand how you can lead up in leadership.

Here are some of the points you can try right away.

Deliver Excellent Results Every Time

In simple words, leading up is leading your boss, if you want to do that you have to reach a certain level of trust.

To gain trust, you have to show your excellence by overdelivering the results. 

Superiors are busy but they notice the end results, if you want to reach there get the best results than others in the organization.

Take Responsibility

Let’s face it, if you can’t take responsibility you may not be able to lead up.

Superiors recruited you to deliver results and take responsibility, more responsibility you take, more results you deliver, more are the chances of you leading up.

This goes without saying that you are already excelling in the job you are hired for, and ready to take on more assignments with your daily responsibility.

Value what’s important for your leader

Aligning your priorities with your leader can make you closer to them.

However you may come across a situation where organization priority is way too different than both of yours, just take guidance of your leader and start again.

You may have different priorities than your boss, you may have to first give importance to your leader’s priority to lead up in the future.

Develop Teams

If you want to lead up first you need to lead down properly.

Develop the teams under you so that they can thrive under your leadership.

You need to become a multiplier leader that increases motivation and productivity of the team. Leaders are considered best when they are developing their teams. 

Take the risk

You should be ready to do the things that others are usually avoiding, you can take calculated risks and lead up in the organization.


While taking risks does not mean you compromise with your values, ethics and family, it simply means going out of your comfort zone. 

Be the solution seeker

Finding problems or pointing out problems are easy tasks, almost everyone has mastered it.

You can be the solution seeker in the organization, when you seek a solution you build credibility in the organization. 

So these are some of the tips to lead up in the organization.

In this short blog about what does it mean to lead up in leadership? We tried to cover the meaning of lead up and some tips.

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