Manage diverse bosses and build relationships to earn significant salary increases

Written on:December 6, 2012

How a VP learns improve communication skills with diverse bosses, enhance team-building, and earn significant salary increases.



“Peter,” who served as a Vice President (VP) in the IT department of a global financial institution, worked in a matrix organization where he reported to two bosses. The diverse executives, of disparate multicultural nationalities, also worked on different continents. Peter’s need involved learning how to effectively communicate with them.

This involved international travel and required dealings with additional staff in India, Australia, England and the United States. In general, Peter’s internal team and customers expressed satisfaction with his management skills. But, he struggled with managing upward. He assumed his bosses knew what work he accomplished without fully explaining all he did and how it impacted his results.



I worked with Peter—starting with assessments, and continuing with several months of intermittent discussions and planning—especially to help him balance both bosses’ work requirements and build stronger relationships with them. We created a communication and action plan and I helped keep him accountable to it. Part of the plan involved one-on-one meeting preparation to help Peter present information in a more consistent structure according to his bosses’ divergent needs.

Peter learned it was not bragging to share how he handled certain projects and decisions, and attained positive results. Rather, his bosses needed this important information to understand their VP’s efforts and to trust his impeccable abilities.

In our process for improving relationships, I also helped Peter with day-to-day challenges. We took time to work through staff and organizational situations that arose. I helped him think through each issue with an advanced approach to problem solving matching his style, in which we often found linkages to larger issues.

Because Peter felt it inappropriate to discuss certain issues with peers or bosses, he expressed appreciation for ongoing access to my objective outsider’s perspective. He said he found it extremely valuable to be able to call me or schedule time to talk through issues.



These efforts paid off in better communication, improved relationships with his executives, and pinpointing pertinent goals, as well as other very tangible results.

Individually, Peter became an even more effective leader: able to position himself with his bosses in a better light, and strategically share information to keep them apprised of his work and results.

His leadership growth subsequently benefited the organization. Because Peter’s team worked together more seamlessly, they improved their ability to attain higher measurable goals and earned greater recognition. His team garnered higher ratings than others, which in turn warranted higher salary increases and bonuses for both Peter and his people.


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