How to Lead Your Manager to TEAM

By Susan Leahy MA. CSP and Freeman Michaels MA

A lot of managers talk team, but they have real trouble “walking” team. In other words, the manager recognizes the benefits of teamwork, they may even talk about being a better team, but then they turn around in the next moment and do things that undermine the spirit of the team within their department. Even managers that read books about team building and team leadership can have very real difficulties putting the theories into practice.

Most employees believe that they must wait for management to “get it” for there to be a strong team orientation at work. We, at Group to TEAM Leadership Solutions, firmly believe that anyone within an organization can prompt a significant move toward TEAM. We have designed a special leadership program for administrative professionals who want to generate a greater sense of collaboration and cooperation in their workplace. Leadership, in the Group to TEAM model, occurs at every level within an organization. Our programs empower administrative professionals to become the instigators and creators of team, within their organization.

The program we are about to discuss revolves around a process we developed called the Partnering Paradigm. The Partnering Paradigm reframes the conversations administrative professionals are having with their managers. The Partnering Paradigm is highly effective in generating team because it focuses the conversation on a common interest and/or shared goals.

While we don’t have space in this short article to cover all of the principles of the Partnering Paradigm, we do want to teach you the first part. We consider this first, four step, process to be a key driver of team. In fact, administrative professionals who take our program consistently report that this process, alone, greatly improved the quality of their relationship with their boss.

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Step #1: Find Four Words

Let go of the “four letter words” that you may be using to describe your boss and choose four words that best describe what you WANT to think or feel when working with your boss.

Here is a short list of words to help get you started:

Respectful, fun, happy, effective, dynamic, rewarding, fulfilling, trusting, caring, supportive, thoughtful, considerate, enjoyable, positive, encouraging, productive, generous, kind

Organizing your attention around what you want, rather than focusing on complaints (what you don’t want), will naturally invite other people to energetically meet you at this positive perspective. It will also empower you to move through the natural challenges at work much more gracefully.

Step #2: Commit to Create

Once you have selected the four words that best characterize the quality of experience you want to generate in a relationship with your boss, create a commitment statement to support your focus.

“I am committed to being in an open, honest, supportive and trusting working relationship with ______________ (insert your boss’s name).”

Making a commitment is an empowered way to frame situations or dynamics in your life so that you can drive the results you want, rather than continually recreate situations and dynamics that don’t work for you.

Once you commit to what you want, then everything that you do or say is either in alignment with your commitment, or it is not. Making commitments is the most powerful way, that we know of, to create the life you want.

Step #3: Share and Declare

Sit down with your boss and share your four words with him or her. That conversation could sound something like:

“I want us to have the best possible working relationship so that we can both be successful. I have come up with four words that describe the type of relationship that I’d like to see us have, and I want to share them with you. I am committed to an open, honest, supportive and trusting working relationship with you.”

At this point, it is most common for the manager to acknowledge your commitment and offer some desire to match your commitment — it often sounds like, “yes, I’d like that too.” However, please don’t go into the conversation looking for anything in return — your declaration is your gift to yourself. The key to a powerful commitment is your focus on YOU — you are not asking other people for permission or recognition, you are simply letting them know “what you are up to creating.”

Step #4: Communicate from Your Commitment

Become rigorous in communicating from your commitment. Make your commitment the overarching context in all of the conversations that you are having at work. For example, you might state your commitment as the starting point of a conversation: “My commitment is to being in an open, honest, supportive and trusting working relationship with you, so I’d like to talk about ….” You may want to reference key qualities in your commitment by saying something, such as: “I want you to feel supported by me, so how can I best …?” The simple phrase, “how can I support you?” may be a great way to reflect the quality, “supportive,” that you are looking to generate in your relationship with your boss.

There is a principle in life that we find to be true: “to get what you want, learn to give it first.” The idea here is that each of us has the power, via our attitude and actions, to create an environment that reflects the qualities that we want to experience more of. Simply put, we create a team by modeling what it means to be a great team player.

We hope that these four steps help launch a new possibility for your relationship with your boss. We also want to suggest that these steps can be applied to any relationship that is important to you. Many of our program participants have worked with these principles in their relationship with their spouse, co-workers or even their children. Leadership opportunities, from our perspective, occur in every area of your life. Putting the the “Group to TEAM” principles into practice can improve, not only the teams you work with but the teams you live with, too.

Watch the video on How to Lead Your Manager to Team from Susan Leahy and Freeman Michaels here: How to Lead Your Manager to Team.

For more information about Group To TEAM Leadership Solutions, we invite you to visit our website at Please reach out to us, using the “contact” tab, if you’d like more information about our programs or if you’re interested in a customized proposal to bring our training, coaching and consulting services to your organization.