You want to be on your boss’s good side to get a great performance review, right? And you want to work “as one” with him/her whenever you are both working on an initiative for your organization. And sometimes, you have some needs that she/he can meet, and you want to make those requests respectfully. That’s called Leading Up.

Here are some actionable tips for getting what you want from your supervisor while also improving the relationship:

  1. Assure your one-to-ones with your supervisor occur regularly. Give him/her feedback on how often you think the frequency needs to be, to stay on the same page. Regular communication typically improves relationships.
  2. In meetings with your boss, have a written agenda. He/she might already have one of these for your meetings, but if not, it’s proactive and intentional to bring one of your own. It also helps you remember the talking points on which you’d like feedback.
  3. Assure that after each discussion topic it is clear who has the action and by when. Often a follow-up email locks in the clarity and gives a chance for any clarification on what plan was decided upon.
  4. When your leader directs you to take an action or asks for your help, display a can-do attitude and find out what would make the outcome most positive in their eyes. Your first “customer” is your leader. Calendar getting that task done ahead of other projects if possible, and be prompt with the follow-up.
  5. In general, keep your supervisor informed of your status and your priorities. Don’t leave her/him wondering what you are up to lately. Be ready for their question, “How can I help?”
  6. Ask for feedback in almost every conversation. Not only does this give your boss a chance to mentor you from his/her experience, but you also better understand expectations. And you get more comfortable asking for and receiving feedback constructively. Say thank-you for when they speak into your life or project.
  7. Show gratitude whenever your leader removes an obstacle or paves a path for you accomplishing one of your goals. And on a regular basis, simply be grateful for all she/he does for the team, and ask how they are doing, followed by the word “really?” This shows you care and can humanize the relationship. Leaders often don’t get much encouragement–only the biggest problems to solve.
  8. Whenever you give input to your supervisor’s decisions, give feedback respectfully. Enter that conversation with phrases like, “What if we…” or “Have you considered….” before making suggestions. If they don’t run with your idea, be gracious.

Which ones resonate with you? You probably have learned some Leading Up lessons yourself. What would you add to make this list to round out “10” tips? Reach out at