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Submitted by 3333 on


Does anyone have advice on how to counteract a reputation for being a "suck up"? I blame this on Manager Tools! OK, not really - I take full responsibility for my new rep.

Since becoming an MT groupie almost a year ago, I have soaked up all the podcasts and implemented the trinity. I am still learning as I go, as are my directs, and I am happy to report that the results are great and I am a far more effective manager than I was. The problem is that this greater emphasis on managing relationships - with my bosses, my peers, the full 360 degree set of relationships found in a matrix organisation - makes me stick out in a crowd. 

I already stuck out - I am a woman, I am a CEO of a country in the Middle East, I am in financial services, I am younger than a CEO usually is, my organisation has humble British roots while both my accent and management style are more typically American. And now, on top of all that, I am strengthening my relationships and it is being noticed.

Everyone who is senior to me and all my peers are in other locations. I am the most senior person in my country. They don't see that I am putting the majority of my effort into building relationships with my directs and my team of 400 people. One on Ones, Feedback, Delegation, Coaching, Skip Levels, communication, communication, communication - I spend so much time working with my team. My boss and his boss and my peers all see the results. I have earned a reputation as a top performer. My directs are reaping the benefits as well and a couple have moved on to bigger and better things outside the country. I have received strong positive feedback about the strength and effectiveness of my team.

All that is great. For some reason I can't quite figure out, my relationship building activities with my peers and bosses have resulted in this reputation of "managing up well".

I manage 360 well! What can I do to counteract this reputation?

All advice gratefully received.....

scoobyslippers's picture

Sounds like a good problem to have given all the plusses you highlight!  I'd be interested in anyone's views on this too - can this be counteracted or does it 'go with the territory'?

peterddw's picture

You can safely assume that you are experiencing attention that is usually bestowed upon exceptional performers. This definitely goes with the territory and most of us are not natural attention seekers. Let yourself become comfortable with the experience of being in the limelight. Be proud of your accomplishments to date but don't stop growing and achieving. Naturally the more successful you are in the leadership role the more attention you will attract. This attention carries with it the honor and responsibility of being a role model, so remember to always exercise good judgment and continue to mentor well.


SteveAnderson's picture
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When I first started taking applying MT to my work, I developed the same reputation.  Within the first six months I developed a stellar relationship with a boss I had been at odds with for the previous five years.  Along with the improved relationship came added responsibility and I became his right hand for my last year there.  His boss, as well as all my peers, assumed I had suddenly developed a capacity to suck up when I had spent the previous five years being an impetuous child (frankly).

I started a new job and came into it with all the professionalism, communications skills, and relationship building skills I had learned from MT.  I didn't know it at the time, but the overall professionalism of this office was about ten steps down from my previous.  I was almost ordered within the first week to "stop dressing up so much" (khakis, shirt, and tie) because I dressed on the level of my superiors.  Within the first month, I was confronted by my team lead who accused me of being a "brown-noser."  When I asked if she could illustrate a behavior that led her to that conclusion, she told me it was because I "talk differently to everyone" (read: changed my communication style based on the audience) and that it indicated I had a "weak personality" and was too much of a "people pleaser."   All of my bosses there with the exception of one (sadly, there have been five in the past fourteen months) have been great with me because of my ability to work with them and help them with their needs.

To respond to ScoobySlippers, I think it does come with the territory.  Being an effective communicator and having even 1% more relationship building skills does make you stand out in a crowd - especially to your peers.  The unfortunate side effect of this is that your peers will often try to find a way to tear you down by emphasizing any fault, real or perceived.  M&M always say you need to grow a thick skin to this sort of thing if you're going to be a manager.  As I indicated, I left my last job as a team lead and this was true.  Having moved into a non-management position, I've realized that if you want to do things the MT (or CT) way, you need to grow just as thick a skin.  Yeah, you'll get slammed sometimes, but it sounds like you're realizing all the benefits of being a true professional in the MT style.


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SMcM's picture
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I have had some of the same problems.

I do loads of the MT (and CT) stuff and am getting great results. I had our Quarterly review on Friday and was within all my budgets, have a very low staff turonver, great team etc. At my bosses recent staff meeting one of my peers commented that I was a "suck-up" too my face. Another agreed. I just laughed it off but thought about it later and it annoyed me. Then I thought about it some more and realised that they were saying that because they were not getting as good results with their teams as I was. I am a newer manager with a lot less experience - and am trying to do it the right ways (MT/CT).

So I agree that one needs to develop a thicker skin if you are a MT manager. Then when I get promoted before them they can start trying "sucking up" to me!



3333's picture
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 Thanks, guys. After almost a year of devotion to all things MT-related, this is the first time I posted on the forum. I am immensely grateful to you for your kindness. Good to be part of a high-performing team of like-minded managers. Now, on to my next post..... this Kool Aid is addictive! - Karen

mmann's picture
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I agree with previous posts that this is part of excelling.  You can be good at managing up, and down.  The two aren't mutually exclusive.  Your peers simply don't see the downward management.  I'm also reading that you're not pleased with your peer relationships and you're seeking suggestions for improving them. 

I interpret your post to mean that your peers don't feel they have a strong relationship with you, (lack of trust), so they're projecting ulterior motives on your behaviors     Reciting back what we've heard M&M say thousands of times, "Relationships are built on trust, and trust is built on communication," it seems reasonable to suggest that you need to find a way to increase your communication with your peers.