John uses the analogy of watching a movie and seeing an actor headed for a door that you know they should not [think horror story] and you want to shout, “don’t do it,” that is leading from the middle. The question is when do you press in to influence or the timing of your approach.
There may be times when you have necessary information that your boss does not. All leaders receive information differently; however, a wise leader wants to know when they are missing something. The best way to influence is to ask questions which will lead your boss into the insight although there will be times when speed is of the essence and you will have to be direct.
Learn to gauge the atmosphere of the office and the temperament of your boss. For example, if he is angry, it might not be the best time to approach him. John recommends the following:
“When you’re thinking about leading up but aren’t sure if the timing is right, ask yourself these questions about your motives:
- Will this benefit everyone, or just me?
- Is my goal to communicate with my leader, or to coerce my leader into seeing things my way?
- Do I have “skin in the game,” or does my leader bear all the risk?
- Is the timing really right, or is it just right for me?
- Am I asking too much?”
The answers to these questions will give you a sense of the direction to take.