03 December 2023 |

A Tale of Two Methods

By workweek

As a vice president, I worked with several direct reports. Each with a unique approach to their roles. It quickly became apparent that their engagement method and grasp of numbers significantly impacted their success and the perception of their leadership skills.

  1. Leaders Who Know Their Numbers
    Those who were meticulously on top of their numbers created a positive impression. Their deep understanding and command of data reflected how they managed their teams and daily operations. This approach demonstrated their competence, reliability, and foresight in planning and execution.
  2. The Impact of Being Less Informed
    On the other hand, leaders who lacked a firm grip on their numbers often sent negative signals about their leadership style. This was particularly evident in situations of underperformance. It suggested a potential disconnect in how they engage and coach their teams, raising questions about their effectiveness as leaders.

This experience highlighted three critical areas in managing upwards and keeping your organizations informed:

  1. Know Your Numbers Inside Out
    Being accurate and informed about your business is essential. This knowledge is crucial when delivering your sales forecast. Lack of accuracy can indicate poor sales forecasting and negatively impact your credibility.
  2. Open, Honest, and Transparent Communication
    The temptation to obfuscate or paint an incomplete picture can be vital, especially when behind on numbers. However, transparency is critical. When my team members approached me with honesty about their challenges, my instinct was always to support and guide them toward growth. Conversely, a lack of transparency would raise concerns and caution in assessing their business.
  3. Have a Defined Point of View and Backup Plans
    It’s vital to be clear about your current business standing and have a vision for moving forward. Having a Plan B and even a Plan C demonstrates to your leadership team that you’re prepared for various scenarios. This preparedness instills confidence in your leadership, showing that you’re aware of potential challenges and proactive in planning solutions.


Effective upward management is more than just reporting; it’s about demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of your business, maintaining transparency, and showcasing strategic foresight. 

By mastering these skills, you enhance your leadership profile and drive your team’s success.