We’ve worked with a lot of leaders over the past 35 years, and we’ve found that many of them have a blind spot for the importance of Including Up, regardless of their position in their company. This blind spot is a great example of how leaders sometimes get stuck in their success instead of continuing to grow and learn. To become a leader, you had to demonstrate that you were capable of producing results. You had to prove that you were self-sufficient, driven, and an asset to your company. You had to show your boss that you could overcome obstacles and that they could depend on you to get the job done, no matter what. You showed that you didn’t need a lot of hand-holding or babysitting to produce excellent results. It was a lot of hard work to get where you are! It makes sense that you would see what you’ve achieved and think that you’ve figured out what it takes to be successful. Hey, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it!
Unfortunately, getting stuck in this idea of what it means to be successful almost always produces a kind of lone-wolf mentality. You view your work and your accountabilities as your responsibility. It’s not your boss’s responsibility to make sure you get the job done. It’s yours! If you have to bring your boss in on your work, you usually see it as a sign of weakness or failure. This is the blind spot we’re talking about. Your understanding of success blinds you to seeing the opportunities and power of including your boss in your work—what we call Including Up.
When you view your work from the perspective of Including Up, you see your accountabilities as a partnership between you and your boss. What’s true is that whatever you’re accountable for, your boss is accountable for as well. You are both responsible for your success. When you open your eyes to this reality, you see that it’s not a sign of weakness if you include your boss; it’s an expression of taking full responsibility for your success and the success of the company. This shift helps you see new possibilities. You can now look for where it’s appropriate to include your boss. Where can your boss contribute to the fulfillment of your accountabilities? Are there dangers or opportunities that would be useful for your boss to know about? Where could including your boss grow and strengthen your working relationship? These are just some of the opportunities that emerge when you shift how you view success to include the practice of Including Up.
Of course, every boss and every commitment is different, and how you include your boss in your work will require trial and error. It will be a learning process for both of you, but it’s worth it! You and your boss will become a more agile, efficient, and productive team when you take on the practice of Including Up.