At the beginning of my career, I was working extremely hard, staying in the office until midnight 2-3 days/week, the era of the laptop was nonexistent. The good news was that the results were great. In particular, my new strategy was giving the company a competitive advantage. I, therefore, decided to take my courage and go talk to the big boss about a promotion.

When I talked to the Director, he told me that he did not notice my work very much and in turn, could not grant me a promotion. I was focusing so much on delivering results that I was not taking care of selling my results. In addition, my office was 300-400 meters away from the HQ and senior management did not really know what was going on there.

‘I was focusing so much on delivering results that I was not taking care of selling my results.

When confronted with the negative reply from the Director, I had a bright idea and told him, “how about my new strategy that is delivering breakthrough results?” He replied, “the strategy was developed by John (my boss), not by you!”

Your initial reaction may relate to my boss’ ethics, but there’s more to this than meets the eye. The seven tips below will help you learn from this case and provide you with pragmatic advice to positively influence the relationship with your management.

1. Establish and maintain your professional image and exposure

The PIE model I learned at Procter & Gamble, that is also presented in the book Empowering Yourself by Harvey J. Coleman, describes effective career management and personal branding as a combination of three factors:

Performance: Your results and contributions

Image: Your reputation and credibility inside the company

Exposure: The visibility of your job to senior management

I had focused only on Performance when approaching my Director, neglecting Image and Exposure. It was no surprise that I did not get a promotion!

2. Take the time to understand your boss’ mindset and personality

To create the basis for a positive relationship with your management, you need to understand the mindsets and personalities of your bosses. Are they introverted or extroverted? Are they thinkers or feelers? How about their preferences in communication: written vs oral? What is their approach to decision making? What is their risk tolerance, the pace of work, or working schedule?

With this knowledge, you can adapt your interaction and communication style with each of your bosses. This will also give you the opportunity to more easily build rapport with them. For more insights on building rapport, you may want to check out one of my short videos on the topic

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3. Be specific about your career goals and determine what you need

A key part of the influencing up process is to determine what you are trying to achieve in your career in terms of career path, promotion, salary, work/life balance, international transfer, etc. and then determine what you will need to achieve these goals. Do you require specific training, professional development, exposure to a specific function or involvement in a strategic project? Perhaps an assignment that involves interaction with head office? The opportunity to work with talented coworkers and develop new skills?

Answering these questions will direct your influencing efforts towards the right persons.

4. Find out your bosses’ key goals

Everything you do in your role is in some way tied to your boss and your boss’ boss goals, objectives, and desired outcomes. What expectations do they have placed on themselves?

It makes sense to spend the time to understand what is really important to them and then acting upon this knowledge to define your priorities. This will also help you positively influence them as you will be able to highlight what’s in it for them when you are proposing one of your initiatives.



Giuseppe Conti is the founder of CABL (, a firm that offers a range of customized training in the field of negotiation and influencing.

Since 2005, he is an award-winning Professor and Lecturer at leading business schools throughout Europe (Cambridge, EPFL, ESADE, HEC Lausanne, HEC Paris, IESE, IMD, Imperial College, INSEAD, London Business School, Oxford, RSM, SDA Bocconi, UBIS, University of Geneva and University of St Gallen), recognized for his lively and interactive training workshops.

He runs negotiation workshops in four continents. Corporate leaders from multinational corporations and individuals from over 90 different countries have attended his workshops.