BSC Book Review

by Nou Vang, MPA, BSC Consultant

Managing Up: How to Forge an Effective Relationship With Those Above You
Rosanne Badowski with Roger Gittines
Currency | 2004 | 240 pp. | ISBN 0385507739

Welcome to our leadership resources book review to facilitate your continued growth and move your ideas to action. This month we add Managing Up: How to Forge an Effective Relationship With Those Above You by Rosanne Badowski and Roger Gittines to your professional reading list and provide reflection by Nou Vang, MPA.

Managing Up by Rosanne Badowski and Roger Gittines is a leadership development book based on Badowski’s professional relationship with Jack Welch, former GE CEO, as his executive assistant. Managing Up is not your mundane, run-of-the-mill skills development book. Badowski and Gittines employ humor and real-life examples that will make you laugh aloud or giggle to yourself.

Many business, professional, and leadership books focus on developing employees for management and executive level positions. The appeal of Badowski’s Managing Up is that it is meant for all employees, regardless of their position. Badowski wisely points out that the key to managing up is to learn how to manage everyone around you. When you’re managing up, you’re managing an ecosystem of players that come into contact with your boss.

Many of the tips and techniques shared by the authors are translatable to my daily professional life. One tip that stood out to me is that the key to being an effective manager is having a boss that allows you to manage in your own way…and fail if needed.

“Good managers must allow people to act on their behalf and live with the consequences. In return, employees must adopt the established agenda and make it of paramount personal and professional importance. If those two parts of the equation aren’t present, the relationship may not explode outright, but it’s not likely to be as strong, productive, and satisfying as it could be, should be, and—as far as I’m concerned—must be” (p. 26).

This definitely is an important tip to remember as an employee and manager. We often are afraid to fail. However, there is no growth, insights learned or innovation, when we manage a process so strictly that there is no room for failure or appreciation of failure.

Another tip that resonated with me is the belief that good managers know everything that is happening around them. To this point, Badowski states that one must “make the agenda of the person you work for your own” and asserts that effective employees “solve problems—not senior management.”

The takeaway here is that you cannot “manage up” if you don’t know what you’re managing. Being aware of your supervisor’s schedule, projects, and priorities are extremely important and provide you with the insight needed to prioritize your own projects and schedule.

The concepts in the book reinforce the importance of many of the practices that I have put in place in managing my President & CEO. I check-in with the President and CEO daily to prioritize the work for the day and to find out if any of the priorities for the week and even month have shifted. I share what I learn with my colleagues, whose work may be affected by any of the updates received.

Additionally, I too believe that it is important to allow staff to manage projects and assignments independently without much input or guidance. I verbalize this with my President & CEO when I think she is getting too much into the weeds. I share with her my process and ask for her advice. I let my President & CEO know that I have the choice to use or not use her advice and suggestions. This level of understanding has greatly helped our relationship.

This is a great book to reference. I plan to keep it near me so I can review and reference the suggestions and concepts presented by the authors when needed. I also am suggesting that all of my colleagues read this book because as Badowski states, “…we’re all managing someone.”

Badowski mentions in the beginning of this book that it is not written to be read linearly from front to back. Each chapter is independent from the other chapters and the reader can start at any chapter based on their current situation. Even if you don’t have issues with management or aren’t having a mini personal career crisis, this book is a must read and should be on every employee’s bookshelf.

Managing Up is recommended for…

  • Anyone ready to start managing a team member whether it is a lateral or horizontal management relationship including those who are in need of a refresher on how to better manage work relationships including supervisors and bosses who are being managed.

Cite: Vang, N. (2021). BSC Book Review: Managing Up: How to Forge an Effective Relationship With Those Above You.  Rockville, MD: BSCorbett Consulting, LLC. Retrieved from