How to Master the Art of Leading Up: Rise Above and Lead Beyond | THE LEADERSHIP COACHING INNER CIRCLE™

You can do one of two things for the leader you work under; you can make their load lighter, or you can make it heavier. 

As a leader, you must take it upon yourself to connect not only with the people you lead but also with the person who leads you.

You can do one of two things for the leader you work under; you can make their load lighter, or you can make it heavier. “We can lift people up or take people down in our relationships.” This is the elevator principle.

Learning how to lift your leader's load helps your leader succeed, and when they succeed, you gain greater value and influence.

If you want to lead up, you must take the initiative and responsibility to lift the load of your leader by taking on responsibilities or tasks that make your leader more efficient and effective.

You might be wondering, how can I lift my leader's load? And What does that look like?

First and foremost, it means you do your own job well. Baseball legend Willie Mays said, “It isn’t hard to be good from time to time in sports. What's tough is being good every day.”

Consistent and productive behavior in your current role earns you the opportunity to move forward in your organization. It also releases your leader from having to spend his or her extra time and energy on activities that are your responsibility.

If you want to be an extraordinary leader, you have to do more than just show up to work and check off to-do items.

You need to come to work motivated to find and solve problems. Great leaders go the second mile in their performance. You won't find them surfing the Internet, gossiping with co-workers, or goofing off since they know their leader is counting on them for results every time.

Serving your leader well is one of the best ways to gain influence with him or her as well as with others in your organization—and within your industry. You can lift your leader's load by standing up for them and speaking up for them—whenever you can.

Former Army General and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “When we are debating an issue, loyalty means giving me your honest opinion, whether you think I'll like it or not. Disagreement, at this stage, stimulates me. But once a decision has been made, the debate ends. From that point on, loyalty means executing the decision as if it were your own.”

A wise leader understands how important it is to lead up well. That means telling your leader what he or she needs to hear, not only what he or she wants to hear. Being forthright requires the confidence that you will always do what's best for your leader as well as for your organization.

You will also lighten your leader’s load when you begin to think like your leader, when it comes to vision. Pay attention to your leaders' enthusiasm so you can better support their vision.

Learn to listen for their core values or, simply stated, their heartbeat. Just as a doctor listens to someone's heartbeat to know that person's physical condition, you need to listen to your leader’s heartbeat to understand what makes them tick. What makes them laugh? What makes them cry? What makes them sing?

Their heartbeat is what they LOVE to do. Once you identify their heartbeat, you can move forward to understand their priorities, which is what they HAVE to do.

Understanding what brings the leader you serve joy, meaning, or fulfillment will allow you to have an awareness of how you can think ahead to lighten his or her load.

A great leader studies the challenges their leader may be facing, then learns to think ahead to bring solutions and strategies to manage those challenges for their them. If you have the willingness and capacity to lift the load of your leaders when they need it, you will have influence with them.

Your influence also grows with your leader when you take the responsibility to own your mistakes. It's true—great leaders do not make excuses. Whether you are working alone or with difficult people, if you keep the primary objective of lifting your leader's load in mind, you can better manage these challenges. You may struggle at times; in fact, you might even fail. Baseball coach McDonald Valentine said, “The higher the level you play, the less they accept excuses.”

If you keep falling short in the same way, you may learn how to overcome an obstacle, or you may discover an area of weakness where you will need to collaborate with others. But no matter what, don't make excuses. Steven Brown, president of the Fortune Group, summed up this issue: “Essentially, there are two actions in life: performance and excuses. Make a decision as to which you will accept from yourself.” Keep in mind that great leaders exceed expectations without excuse.

When mistakes are made, understand the difference between an excuse and a reason.

An excuse is to pass the buck or blame someone else. It is to aggressively avoid taking any responsibility.

A leader recognizes that things happen, and he or she is usually on top of the reasons that led to the particular mistakes or failures.

Determine to learn from the challenge and take responsibility for doing something about it. Figure out the reason behind what went wrong, and then take ownership to change the outcome. It's a powerful way to lighten your leader's load.

This will set you apart as a reliable team member and one that fights for the vision. Effective leaders practice finding answers and do so with accountability. This is why they gain so much trust and influence and move ahead in their leadership development. Their net worth to the organization flows out of their own self-worth and confidence.

As your leadership skills grow, you will learn to step up and help, even when it's not your exact job description. This isn't to appear overly busy. You don't receive any extra credit in life or from your leader for being abnormally busy. It's about strategically taking on responsibilities that lighten your leader's load. Sometimes this will mean wearing different hats or fulfilling a different role within the organization.

Successful leaders do more than expected.

When they see a problem that could be solved, they step up and solve it before it becomes the leader's issue. They aren't afraid to do more because they understand that is a part of strong leadership. James Cash Penny, better known as the founder of JC Penny, once said, “Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.”

Success isn't something you stumble upon. Lifting isn't easy, but it shows that you are a team player who is grateful for the opportunity to serve.

Demonstrating that you are motivated to lift your leader's load will make you stand out as a valuable addition to the team. Lifting gets you noticed because lifting always increases your value. Not only will this make your leader appreciate you, but it will also bring you greater fulfillment—lifting the load of someone bigger than you makes you part of something bigger! Lifting always brings back a return on investment, both for you and for your leader.

So, what are the characteristics that set leaders apart from the crowd?

  • They push the boundaries.

  • They challenge the status quo.

  • They desire to find a better way.

  • They want to make improvements.

  • They like to see progress, and they always remember who they work for.

They lighten their leader's load by creating positive change in alignment with their leader's heart, vision, and values. They make a difference, and their leader gives them more influence because of it.

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Take a moment to reflect and answer the following questions thoughtfully. Don't rush. Be thoughtful.

  • Do you know your leader's core values and priorities?

  • What brings your leader the greatest stress?

  • How can you lift the load of your leader in this stressful area?

  • What current responsibilities do you need to manage or delegate in order to take on more responsibilities to successfully lift your leader's load?


Schedule a private meeting with your leader to ask the following questions. You must take this action in order to build the level of rapport necessary to lead up and grow as a leader.

  • What can I do to lighten your load and take something off of your plate?

  • How can I partner with you to reinforce your voice inside the organization?


In the journey of leadership, it is not enough to focus solely on your own role and responsibilities. As a leader, you must also cultivate a deep connection with the person who leads you. By actively seeking ways to lighten your leader's load, you create a win-win situation where both you and your leader thrive.

Extraordinary leaders understand that their role extends beyond ticking off tasks on a to-do list; it requires a commitment to continuous growth, collaboration, innovation, and making a meaningful impact.

Lifting your leader's load is about taking initiative, being proactive, and going above and beyond in your performance. It starts with consistently excelling in your current role and fulfilling your responsibilities with excellence. By doing so, you not only gain credibility and influence but you also free up your leader's time and energy to focus on more strategic initiatives.

Mastering the art of leading up is a game-changer for your career growth and organizational impact. So, step up, take charge, and unlock new levels of leadership and success by embracing the power of leading up. It's time to make your mark and create a thriving professional journey that surpasses expectations.

Get ready to soar to new heights and revolutionize the way you navigate your professional relationships.

Yours in growth,


P.S. Do you find yourself seeking answers to your coaching and leadership questions? Click here and let me know what you'd like me to delve into. Your valuable input will guide my writing and ensure I address the topics that matter most to you.

Oh, and one more thing!

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I think it will encourage you and give you practical thoughts to make the right changes you need for a better growth environment. Access them for FREE right here, right now! You are going to have access to Coaching Tools and Specific Growth Actions that will create transformational change in your life and leadership this year.

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Leyda is an accomplished international executive coach, author, and authority in leadership coaching, mentoring, and individual and team development. With a wealth of experience as a respected HR executive, Leyda is renowned for her invaluable insights and transformative guidance. She is the proud author of the empowering and influential book "The Executive Coaching Guide: What Every HR Professional Needs to Know." As a sought-after mentor and leadership coach, Leyda's unwavering expertise and contagious passion inspire HR professionals and executives globally to unleash their full potential and achieve unparalleled success.

Leyda’s methodology follows the foundational knowledge of professional coaching, including humanistic psychology, constructivism, neurolinguistic programming, positive psychology, and systemic coaching.


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