top of page

What to do immediately to begin managing your manager

What to do immediately to begin managing your manager

Understanding how to manage your manager is a critical skill that comes in handy when you run into conflicts that impact the work product and the team.

Our managers are human beings, each with their unique styles and zones of genius. Yet, when conflict arises due to miscommunication or mismatched expectations, work can become a battleground instead of a place of collaboration.

When you and your manager are aligned, everything works because you know you'll work together and have each other's back. 

I can't overstate the importance of understanding your manager before you expect to be understood. This understanding begins with what I refer to as the being principles, famously known as "the four agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Let's apply The Four Agreements as a tool to understand your manager. 

1. Don't make assumptions.

Identify and validate assumptions you're making about your manager.

Reflecting on my own experiences, it is essential to examine any assumptions you may be making about your manager's intentions. These assumptions usually create bigger wedges between you and your manager as they tend to worsen your view of them.

To apply the principle of not making assumptions, first, lay out all your assumptions. Be honest. Then, seek to validate them one by one. How? One helpful approach is to ask your manager specific questions so you're not guessing and instead relying on the facts.

If you can check off things that you believed were true when they are not, you'll be left dealing with real issues, not figments of your imagination. The less you have to deal with, the easier it will be to resolve the disparities you're dealing with. 

2. Don't take things personally.

Determine what issues you're taking personally and depersonalize them.

It is natural to take your manager's actions personally. However, when you pay close attention, you will notice that your manager's questionable behavior is likely happening with others, too–it's not exclusive to you, AKA the behavior toward you is not personal.

Recognizing that their behavior is not just directed at you personally can dissolve much of the tension and enable you to become more resourceful about potential ways to address the situation.

3. Be impeccable with your word.

In the context of this conversation, being impeccable with your word with your manager means sharing with them what you have noticed that's having a negative impact on the team.

Being impeccable with your word in this way requires courage. You must approach this conversation from a place of contribution and care about your manager, the team, and the organization.

4. Always do your best.

Ensure your efforts reflect your maximum potential

If you're following the first three agreements, not making assumptions, not taking things personally, and being impeccable with your word, then you're doing your best. 

When you run through the checklist of the first three agreements, you'll identify which you're currently violating. This tool helps you pinpoint where you can course-correct to better understand your manager as you seek a solution to the problem at hand.

As Maya Angelou said, "Do what you can until you know better. And when you know better, do better." Now you know better. Use this tool and identify clear next steps to begin improving the source of headaches and negative discourse.

Now, let's use the Human Needs tool, a valuable resource for understanding your manager and improving your dynamic, interactions, and workplace culture.

Like you, your manager's actions are directly related to universal human needs, as I learned from one of my mentors, Tony Robbins. Here's a brief description of the six human needs you can use to evaluate and understand your manager's behaviors.

Need #1: Certainty

Managers high on certainty ask many questions. They will want to know many more details than you believe appropriate or required, as they should be focused on strategy. 

Their need for certainty and this depth of detail, or even tendencies to micro-manage you, can cause friction and frustrations. 

However, when you filter their actions through the lens of "my manager is high on certainty," you no longer take it personally. You may realize that their need for so much info has nothing to do with not trusting you or any other assumption you may be making. In fact, it may have everything to do with the fact that they are high on certainty.  

Need #2: Uncertainty

While some managers thrive on certainty, perhaps you included, and me too, others seek variety and a way to break out of routines and mundane structure. Managers high on "uncertainty" may create emergency situations by neglecting to plan and prepare for events or meetings. They may also seem disorganized and create mini-wars within the department to amuse themselves. Notice that these are all unhealthy vehicles that meet their need for uncertainty. 

Need #3: Significance 

We all need to feel needed, important, and meaningful. Recognizing the innate desire for recognition allows you to see your manager's behavior through the lenses of significance. 

If you realize that this is one of your manager's primary needs, you can easily help them meet this need in a healthy way by genuinely celebrating their achievements and strengths.

The antidote to unhealthy behavior due to a high need for significance is authentically giving them significance. If they're great speakers, tell them that their presentation was engaging or that the meeting they hosted went really well. Or, if they're presenting numbers to senior leadership, tell them what a great job they did genuinely. If they're good at building relationships, ask for advice on something related to relationships. In other words, highlight their superpowers and be truthful.

Once their needs are met, they will resort less and less to unhealthy ways to feel valued. 

Need #4, #5 and #6. Connection, Growth, and Contribution

Acknowledging your manager's desire for connection, or belonging, growth–the desire to make progress, and contribution–being of service to others can lead to more understanding and resourceful interactions. 

If your manager is walking around like each of us, looking to meet all six human needs, you can see how it would be possible for them to employ unhealthy vehicles to meet those needs. 

They may be unaware of how their behavior negatively impacts their relationships and the team's effectiveness. However, with this level of understanding, you can become highly influential in understanding your manager and have a positive impact on raising self-awareness and the well-being of the team.

Bringing it all together

Let's fine-tune your skills and remove the distractions and noise by managing your manager, including the expectations, assumptions, etc., that arise when there are conflicts and unproductive behaviors that hinder the work that needs to get done. 

Start by understanding your manager and then muster the courage to set up private, empowering conversations to contribute your feedback about what you have noticed. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and the Human Needs tool provide practical frameworks to support you in addressing the areas of conflict. 

As you master this skill of managing your manager, you'll feel more empowered. Give yourself grace and trust in the process.

We'll address this and other topics when we host the Women's Fearless Leadership Masterclass on May 15th, 2024. Check it out and save your virtual VIP seat at

Live with purpose, live with joy!

Coach Ginny 💕

ExecutiveBound Resources

We want to support you whenever you're ready. Visit our Events page to learn about upcoming events and programs.

DR. GINNY A. BARO, Ph.D., MBA, MS, CPC, CEO,, immigrated to the U.S. at age 14 with nothing more than a dream. Today, she is an award-winning international transformational speaker & leadership coach, career strategist, and #1 bestselling author of Healing Leadership and Fearless Women at Work. Named one of the Top 100 Global Thought Leaders, Dr. Baro has successfully delivered keynotes, leadership training, and coaching programs for organizations, ERGs, and Fortune 500 companies. She's been a Leadership Coach for the McKinsey & Company's Hispanic/Latino Executive Program since 2021. Leveraging over 20 years of corporate leadership experience, in 2020, Dr. Baro created the Fearless Leadership Mastermind™ to help high-potential female leaders advance and gain critical leadership skills to lead, engage, and influence their teams confidently and deliver business growth and personal well-being. She earned a Ph.D. in Information Systems, an MS in Computer Science, an MBA in Management, and a BA in Computer Science and Economics, and she is a Certified Professional Coach (CPC). To learn more, please visit

Join our community and receive valuable strategies delivered to your inbox (we don't spam). Read other articles in our blog, and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Here's how we can help!



bottom of page