A lot of he work that I do is about helping young CA’s with their career progression.

What fascinates the most is how many of them play small. As a result they quickly become bored and begin to feel frustrated and stuck.

In reality what has happened is they are not stepping up into the executive space. They might think they are, but when I ask them what their boss does all day, they usually shrug their shoulders and say ‘I dunno’.

For me, that is a sure sign that they are stuck in the manager mind-set!

Now here’s the subtle difference.

Managers point fingers and blame, whilst executives take ownership and find solutions.

I don’t mean to sound disparaging nor am I judging colleagues who find themselves in this predicament. We all go through this phase. What I am saying is that there is a big difference between being a manager and being an executive.

Over time, as you grow and mature, you will develop yourself into an executive.

This article is about one of the things that you can consider in your journey up the corporate ladder. Applying the concepts discussed in these articles will move you there quicker.

One of the issues that keep people stuck is not being aware of the subtleties that play out in the relationships with the people they work with. Accordingly boundaries become smudged and this naturally results in them eroding their own sense of authority and power. This leaves them feeling vulnerable and insecure.

Understanding the relationship dynamics will help you to remain in control and create the right impression that you are mature enough to move up the scale.

There are 3 basic relationships playing out:

  • You and your staff – you are the boss
  • You and your colleagues – you are not the boss
  • You and your boss – you are the subordinate

Understanding each of these relationships puts you firmly in control of your own power.

You are your staff:

There is one thing for sure: if you are not in control of your own team you are unlikely to move further up the ladder. This is about ensuring that you are the boss. A more palatable description might be team leader. But either way you need to be firmly in charge.

A lot of managers prefer their staff to like them and they make the fatal mistake of smudging the boundaries between being liked and being respected. The difference is subtle but powerful: being liked is about always trying to be agreeable. Being respected is about operating within a set of ground rules and the message is clear – I’m likable until you cross the line. Then I’m not necessarily so likable. In fact I might become decidedly nasty!

Your staff need to know how far they can push before they cross the line.

The message is clear – I’m the boss!

You and your colleagues:

These relationships are particularly prevalent in ‘flat-type’ management structures. The defining factor is that people in this chain do not report to you. And here is where things can get complicated. If you approach these people from a space of authority you will experience resistance.  The tactic is to approach them with the intention of creating collaboration and partnership. The overall tone is ‘we are in this together’ and ‘we are on the same team’.

By staying connecting and willing to engage you allow for this working relationship to develop.

But know this: you have no power over them if they do no report to you. If you need something important done and they are not responding to your request, you need to take it to your boss – who would need to deal with it through his boss.

It’s that simple.

And if your boss throws it back at you, do not accept it. This is the point where he needs to get involved so don’t allow him to escape this responsibility.

You and your boss:

There’s not much to say here. It’s simple – the boss is in charge, sets the rules of engagement and has the last say. This does not mean that you cannot engage in lively debate – just know that he is in charge and you need to give him what he wants!

If you do not get this right you will block your growth to the next level.

And this is how it works:

  • If you are perceived to be not in control of your team you will judged as a weak manager – too soft.
  • If you are getting pushy with your colleagues, you will be judged as difficult to work with – not a team player.
  • If you fail to deliver to your boss on time and correctly, you will judged as incompetent or uncooperative.

So – you decide.