Know how your business works. Go beyond the boundaries of your team and department. Ask yourself: What’s the outlook for your industry? Who are your main competitors? Where does your money come from? What are the major expenses? Who are the customers, and what do they want? Once you answer those questions, you’ll be better prepared to work with top managers.
Spend more time planning. That means spending less time putting out fires and overseeing day-to-day operations. Not that those don’t go with the territory for front-line managers. But we all know how many crises and day-to-day operational problems could have been avoided with some advanced planning. Figure out what you’re going to need tomorrow and what you’d like to achieve after the current quarter.
Take more action. Writing memos isn’t the kind of “action” senior managers want to see. When you want to do something, don’t lay out all the options in detail for bosses to contemplate. Do what you can yourself. If you can’t move freely without an OK from senior managers, ask for permission, not a decision. Propose a course of action your team members can implement themselves.