Managing Up: What Does That Even Mean?


Stat: 85% of millennial managers worldwide have moved into management in the past five years (Ernst & Young).

Coming from a new professional classified as a millennial, and who recently moved into a management position last year, this is a terrifying daunting statistic.

Making the transition from an early-staged new professional to a mid-level new professional can happen before you even realize. Nonetheless, you still must be prepared as you make this transition to set yourself up for success (and ensure minimal stress-induced sugar binges).

What could this new transition include . . .

Overseeing staff? Say what?

Giving hard feedback instead of only receiving it? You’ve crossed the line, Greg!

Managing up? What does that even mean?

These are all questions we have to face as we produce solid work and move up the professional ladder, whether we’re ready or not. Let’s focus on the last of those three facets of mid-level new professionalism: managing up.

I was fortunate enough to deliver a presentation at 2017’s PRSA International Conference with two of my fellow colleagues (“colleagues” is what you say when you’ve transitioned into mid-level new professionalism, by the way) from the PRSA New Professionals Executive Committee. The topic in which we delivered captivating content to our session attendees? You guessed itmanaging up.

I’ll let you look over the presentation on your own time HERE (there are some pretty interesting stats and tips in there), but I want to pull out two main points:

  1. Managing up, the act of managing upwards to your superiors, is not something that’s often taught outside of real-world experience (and even that’s if you’re lucky).
  2. When done well, managing up takes foresight, strong two-way communication and a grounded perspective.

“But Greg, you say it’s only taught in the real world? I’m in dire need of this skill; where can I learn more?!”

Well, I just happen to know of the perfect event to recommend and it’s coming up next Wed., Jan. 24 from 3 – 4 p.m. EST in the form of a virtual teleseminar!

This session, PRSA New Pros’ first of the year and entitled Maximize Your Career Potential by Learning to Manage Up, will be presented by Scott W. Thornburg, APR.

This session is a crash course on managing up and you’ll end being armed with tangible takeaways! I met Scott last October and I’m so excited to hear what advice he’ll be offering attendees. Needless to say, I’ll be showing up with my Do Not Disturb active on my phone and the door shut to my office (no distractions, you know, as a mid-level new professional you’re now being pulled in 200 different directions both upward and downward).


So register, buckle up and get ready for a worthwhile learning experience to rock your mid-week next Wednesday.

With that kind of hype, how could you not register?



Greg works full-time as the Marketing Manager for the Michigan Association of School Boards, as well as a freelance creative services consultant. With several years of strategic communications experience, he specializes in digital and creative marketing and public relations. His experience spans agency, corporate and nonprofit arenas. He serves as the social media co-chair for both the New Professional and Association/Nonprofit PRSA sections. When he’s procrastinating not working he enjoys pretending he’s Twitter famous @GregRokisky and checking off items on his never-ending Goodreads shelves.

Leadership Outside of the Office

Maybe you were a leader when you were in PRSSA, or honed your leadership skills through your on-campus involvement. Now that you’re a new professional, you get to start anew and take your leadership to another level. Natural-born leader or not, there are many ways to exercise your leadership outside of the workplace.

Leaders share their wealth of knowledge with others.

PRSA and similar organizations

Local PRSA Chapters and New Pros committees are always looking for new leadership. I always hear from seasoned PR professionals that New Pros are the future of every organization, so why wait until later when you can start making an impact today?

Every organization needs strong leaders to help make crucial decisions. The best way to get your foot through the door in PRSA leadership is by leading in a committee or undertaking a big event/workshop. It’s a great way to network and get some name recognition if you hope to join the board of directors one day.

Local nonprofits and philanthropies

Most nonprofits are in need of an extra hand, and what better way to cure that do-gooder itch than to lend your expertise to a local nonprofit? Find a cause that you’re passionate about, rally up volunteers and lead the cause calling your name. If there isn’t a cause that piques your interest, start one.

There are so many ways to give back to the community: food drives, local politics, animal shelters and the list goes on. Find an area that could benefit from your expertise. A lot of millennials care about cause-driven movements, so finding people to join the effort shouldn’t be too difficult.

Share your knowledge

Leaders share their wealth of knowledge with others. Leaders also build others up, which brings up the quality of people around them. Not only does this extend your authority on the topic of leadership, but it also helps aspiring leaders learn from you. This could include speaking at a PRSA workshop, PRSSA meeting or offering advice at an organization that helped you get to where you are right now.

Even if you don’t think you’re the strongest leader around, these are great ways to become one. If you believe you’re a great leader, bring those qualities to the table and make something better.

Gemrick Curtom_LinkedIn

Gemrick Curtom is a member of the PRSA New Professionals Committee and the PRSA Houston Chapter. He is a University of Houston alum and currently resides in Houston, TX. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

Leadership In 2016 – Part 3


Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series by leadership and communication expert David Grossman, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA.  In the first two posts, David discussed the importance of leadership today and the keys to effective leadership (with some great input from readers of this blog!)

Leadership Is Easier When You Are Authentic

Growing up, I found myself on the “Supposed To” track.  The feelings I allowed myself to have as a child, teenager and adult were solely happy feelings; the rest of my feelings went into this black hole never to be discovered or talked about.

At age 33, I had achieved all of what I was supposed to and more, and found myself in a therapist’s office.  In talking about my challenges, I had put on the veneer of my polished, professional self.  It’s then that I grabbed the pillow next to me and clenched it to my chest.  Hard.  In that moment, there was a huge disconnect between the words I was saying and my feelings.

My therapist and I now laugh about the pillow that launched my journey of authenticity – one I wish I had started years earlier.

As we think about leadership today, starting on (or continuing on) a path toward authenticity is a way all leaders can make a difference – for themselves and for others.  Authenticity matters today.  Authentic leaders get better business results, have healthier work lives, and excel in real, meaningful relationships. They sleep better at night.

The Road Less Traveled: A Journey of Authenticity

What’s essential for your Journey of Authenticity is to come at it from a place of self-knowledge instead of coming from a place of responding to stress, worry, or anxiety.  This means being as purposeful as you can on your chosen route.

What I know from my research and consulting, as well as from interviews with senior leaders and practitioners – authenticity isn’t a skill.  It’s a component of one’s self that a person can actually accentuate or work on to become better and lead a more fulfilling life – whether it’s on the job, in your relationships, or at home.

No one really learns the skill of authenticity.  Instead, authenticity comes through by improving our communication skills as leaders.   When you come at communication from an authentic place, communication becomes much easier and much more effective.

How To Be Authentic

For me, authenticity has 3 components:

1. Know Yourself

Early in my career, I was fortunate to work with some incredibly inspiring leaders who brought out the best in me. I gravitated toward them because of how they made me feel. I trusted them because they were genuine, authentic, and because they demonstrated much more confidence in me than I had in myself. They stood for my potential, which was incredibly motivating for me as a 20-something professional, and only spurred me on to be even better.

When it was my chance to lead, I was determined to lead in a similarly authentic way. I tried to take the best strategies from each of them. After all, imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Still, I made my share of mistakes as a new leader, and then I realized an important lesson:

Leading authentically isn’t about being “like” someone else. Instead, it’s about knowing yourself and being who you are. Sure, you can “try on” strategies that work for others. Yet in the end, leading authentically is about finding what works best for you. And when you are genuine, you have “full power,” which is what the Greek root of authentic—authentico—truly means.

2. Be Yourself

The second component is about acting in ways that are consistent with who you are. This is your own self-awareness as you relate to others.  This means behaving in ways that are in sync with your values instead of simply trying to please others or get something from others.

Early in my career, I acted like a chameleon, changing my thoughts and feelings based on others.  Today, I strive to be my authentic self regularly.  What it looks like and how I act really doesn’t change very much.  What does change is how I feel on the inside.  When I acted as a chameleon, I did it out of a desire for people to like me.  When I relate to others from an authentic place today, I do it with confidence.  I don’t worry that they won’t like me.  They might not, and that’s their choice – that’s okay.  I’m simply no longer consumed with the need for people to like me.

3. Have Quiet Courage As You Interact With Others

Authenticity is about this constant process of being truthful – first with yourself and then with others – to say the things that need to be said.  It can be very difficult to do it in a kind and respectful way.  Quiet courage is about saying the truth so others are able to hear it.  This isn’t “Rambo” courage but an internal kind of courage that comes from deep inside. It’s about knowing that being truthful is the only way to move people and the business forward. Failing to address the problems or areas of improvement won’t help the business succeed.

Must-Haves for Your Journey to be Authentic

If you’re up for the Journey – and I hope you are – here’s what’s important to have with you at all times:

  • First, your curiosity – You can’t be authentic without the ability to reflect and be self-aware. Your curiosity needs to be as strong – or stronger – than any of the thoughts or feelings you might be having – whether it’s concern or worry, or other much more complex feelings like fear or shame.  If you can be curious, you can look at anything.  You can say, “Hmmm… Wow, that’s interesting. Is there something worth exploring here?  Is there something I can learn about myself or others?” To get ahead in business, you need to continually learn and grow.

    Plus, curiosity will make you a better listener.  The better you listen to others, the better they will listen to you, and the better your relationships will be, including your most important relationship – the one you have with yourself.

  • Second, embrace who you are – It’s our imperfections that create connections with others. People say all the time to “let it go” – the phrase that made the movie, “Frozen,” so popular.  You can never let go what you haven’t embraced.

    You have to say, “This is mine.  I can hold it.  I can own it.  Now, I can let it go.”  And then once you really accept it, saying, “Yes, this is me.  It’s not my favorite part.  Now I can begin the process of letting it go and setting it aside.  It doesn’t really control me.”

  • Last, focus on what you can control – think about all you have control over, and focus on that. Not how your boss, colleagues, or clients behave.  Not the economy.  Not the fact that “stuff happens.”  Don’t focus on where you’re powerless to change things. Instead, focus on what you can do something about.

When In Doubt, Take A Step Back

If you find yourself stressed, or feel stuck on your Journey, just listen to yourself – to your gut.  Take a step back and try to see the forest through the trees.

When you’re approaching a mountain and are miles out, it seems really small.  When you get to the bottom of the mountain and look up, you realize it’s huge.  When life gets too big, back up a little bit.  Sometimes when you’re too close to something, it can feel overwhelming.  You feel incapacitated and can’t take the first step.  Or, the alternative strategy is to get to the base of the mountain and don’t look up; just put your nose down and start. A CEO I used to work with at McDonald’s often would say, “Jump in; the water’s fine!”

The process of looking at yourself can be very difficult in the beginning.  But the value at the other end can be so worth the process.  Very few things feel as rewarding as being who you are in the workplace.

How are you doing at leading authentically, and what’s a next step to advance your Journey?

New ProsEXCLUSIVEDeal-No-Cape-Needed-50-Off

David Head Shot High ResDavid Grossman, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA is both a teacher and student of effective leadership and communication and helps leaders drive productivity and get the results they want through authentic and courageous leadership communication. He’s a sought-after speaker and advisor to Fortune 500 leaders. A three-time author, David is CEO of The Grossman Group, an award-winning Chicago-based strategic leadership development and internal communication consultancy; clients include: Hill-Rom, Eastman Chemical Company, Kimberly-Clark, McDonald’s and Motel 6, to name a few. His newest book, “No Cape Needed: The Simplest, Smartest, Fastest Steps to Improve How You Communicate by Leaps and Bounds,” was published in the fall of 2015 and recently won the Pinnacle Book Award for the “Best in Business” category. In addition, David teaches Internal Engagement at Columbia University, in New York City. To connect with David you can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Leadership in 2016 – Part 2


Editor’s Note: This is guest blog #2 of three that David Grossman will be contributing. Stay tuned for the final part of the series this spring.

What is the Key to Great Leadership Today?

The question of what it takes to be a great leader is a fascinating one, a point made abundantly clear from the recent responses I received to the question following my last post. I challenged readers to give me their best insights on great leadership, and they delivered!  

Everything you shared was insightful, including the need for leaders to go out of their way to connect with their teams, to inspire, to be transparent, to have humility, to challenge the status quo and to encourage different points of view.  

You also talked about understanding and valuing the important role that each individual plays toward achieving an organization’s goals.  To that end, great leaders have a mindset that everyone on the team is a leader.  They help everyone develop their leadership skills so they’re ready, willing and able when it’s their chance to lead.

Just consider the annual scene of geese flying south for the winter. It’s then, when the geese are searching for a warmer climate, that we see the flying-V formation overhead. What’s particularly interesting is that the goose at the apex of the V might be considered the leader. They set the course, lead the way and deal with the most wind in their face.

But that’s only for a time. When the lead goose tires, he or she moves back to the end of the line. Then, a new goose becomes the leader – setting the course, leading the way, and dealing with the most wind in their face.

In business today, organizations need a similar formation, with everyone leading regardless of whether they manage people or not. And that means everyone needs to be ready to lead when it’s their turn.

Once leaders can foster this kind of mentality in an organization, they help ensure accountability. If everyone sees themselves as leaders, no one feels comfortable straying from the ethical standards and values that the company promises to live by.

In my view, that’s one of the most important keys to great leadership.

In my next and last post in this leadership series, I’ll offer some critical tips for how to lead in an authentic way – one that’s motivational and inspirational, as well as is true to who you are.

In the meantime, I’m interested in your thoughts:

In what ways could your organization better help everyone to be a leader?

David Head Shot High ResDavid Grossman, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA is both a teacher and student of effective leadership and communication and helps leaders drive productivity and get the results they want through authentic and courageous leadership communication. He’s a sought-after speaker and advisor to Fortune 500 leaders. A three-time author, David is CEO of The Grossman Group, an award-winning Chicago-based strategic leadership development and internal communication consultancy; clients include: Hill-Rom, Eastman Chemical Company, Kimberly-Clark, McDonald’s and Motel 6, to name a few. His newest book, “No Cape Needed: The Simplest, Smartest, Fastest Steps to Improve How You Communicate by Leaps and Bounds,” was published in the fall of 2015 and recently won the Pinnacle Book Award for the “Best in Business” category. In addition, David teaches Internal Engagement at Columbia University, in New York City. To connect with David you can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Redefining the Mentor-Mentee Relationship


When most of us think of a mentor-mentee relationship, images of a seasoned expert offering sage wisdom and experiences to an aspiring pro probably come to mind. We tend to think that a mentor needs to have many years of experience and the mentor-mentee is an exclusive, hard-to-find relationship that helps to guide the mentee’s career.

Some of these assumptions may be partly true, but it’s past time that we redefine our definition of what a mentor-mentee relationship should look like. A mentorship doesn’t typically begin by seeking someone out and asking “Will you be my mentor?” It’s usually a relationship that evolves from a previous connection – a professor, a supervisor, a leader in your PRSA chapter, a friend of your family, etc. – to help guide you through your career.

What we get wrong about a mentor is that it has to be someone with a lot of experience, that we only need one and that a mentor will be able to guide our careers to perfection instantly and without much input from us. A mentor isn’t a fairy godmother for your career anymore than you’re a pumpkin who dreams of being a carriage. Dispelling some of these incorrect notions and understanding a mentorship needs can make you both a fantastic mentee and a phenomenal mentor, no matter where you are in your career.

A good mentee…

… knows his or her goals.

A mentorship is all about guidance and no one can guide you if you don’t know where you want to go. It’s important to at least have a general idea of what your goals are and where you’d like to be, because otherwise, you and your mentor will just keep going in circles with no real benefit.

…asks for what he or she wants.

Are you looking for advice? Assistance making some connections? Help fine-tuning your resume? An “in” to agency life? You have to be able to ask for what you need. A mentor can provide all kinds of help, but only if they know what will benefit you.

…is gracious.

There’s a difference between using someone for his or her connections and building a relationship that you can benefit from. It’s gratitude. Be gracious about any and every bit of assistance and help that your mentor provides. Beyond just saying thank you, you can send a handwritten note, a little gift, anything to show that you appreciate his or her time and help. The best thank you that you can give, though, is to follow through with their advice or introductions and building something better for yourself.

…knows that it takes a village.

There isn’t one person that will be able to help you with all the career questions you’re bound to have. It’s ok, actually essential, to have more than one person to turn to for advice. Having mentors at varying levels of their careers, with different backgrounds and experiences can help you get a better picture of the professional landscape as you navigate it and pave your own way.

…takes the lead.

If you’re seeking a mentor, you’re probably looking for someone currently working, with good experience and active in your professional interests. So they’re probably going to be busy, too. Take the lead by knowing what you want to know, scheduling meeting time ahead of time and meet them where they are. Don’t be afraid to follow up and nudge a bit if your mentor doesn’t respond within a day or two.

A good mentor…

…gets to know his or her mentee.

A mentorship is a relationship just like any other. It takes nurturing and connecting a multiple levels to keep it alive and beneficial. Learn other things about your mentee – interests, hobbies, family, etc. – and build a connection beyond professional interests.

…is available.

It’s understandable that you’re busy, but if you’re committed to being a mentor, you have to make time for it like anything else. It’s important to be available to your mentee, whether that’s by email, phone, Skype, social media or in person. You don’t have to be available 24/7 or at a moment’s notice, but you should have consistent communication with your mentee.

…isn’t afraid to share.

Sharing your mistakes and missteps is just as important as sharing your nuggets of wisdom and best practices. Knowing that everyone makes mistakes in their career and accepting that is an important part of professional development.

…knows age is just a number.

You can be a good mentor at any age and any career level. A mentorship should be focused around learning and growing together. As you progress in your career, you’ll have different experiences and advice to share. New pros can be just as good a mentor for aspiring young professionals as any master practitioner.

…is open to dialogue.

There’s nothing worse than trying to talk to someone who is stuck in their ways and unable to entertain any other viewpoints. No matter where you are in your career, it’s important to keep an open mind to new ideas and methods, no matter how big or small, or who they’re coming from.

The best mentors and mentees know…

…that mentorship is a two-way street.

Like any other relationship, a mentorship should be beneficial for everyone involved. Mentors can learn just as much from their mentees as they can teach them. Investing time in your mentorship, no matter which role you’re fulfilling, is a worthwhile contribution to your professional development.

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Robyn Rudish-Laning is a member of South Carolina’s PRSA chapter and is communications coordinator for the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. Robyn is also a member of the New Professionals executive committee. She is a graduate of Duquesne University and is currently located in Columbia, SC. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter or read her blog here.