Managing Up – Annotated Bibliography

Advice in Good Situations (or How to Make the Situation Good)

Selected books, research articles, and popular literature for those seeking deeper knowledge on managing their relationship with their boss, including the difficult ones. 

Rousmaniere, D. (2015). What Everyone Should Know About Managing Up. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from 

This article layouts different typologies of bosses one can meet and suggests to master universally important strategies of managing up.

Gallo, A., & Dillon, K. (eds.). (2013). HBR Guide to Managing Up and Across. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing. 

Leading researchers and consultants contribute chapters of advice on varying topics dealing with managing up: presenting problems, including mentor’s advice, advice on persuasion, knowing your bosses’ boss, end micromanaging, dealing with your bosses’ incompetence, dealing with a boss who avoids conflict, giving feedback to your boss, and managing multiple bosses.  

Johnson, W. (2014, Dec. 15). Managing up without sucking up. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from 

In this short article, Johnson recommends 3 practical, easy ways of managing up: know what your job is, know what your supervisor’s job is, and know that your coworkers are not family. 

Torres, N. (2014, Dec. 23). What executive assistants know about managing up. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from 

Torres interviews the president of a senior management support resources company regarding managing up advice. The importance of trust, collaboration, communication, continuous improvement, goal driven behavior, and boundaries are highlighted. While tailored to the role of an executive assistant, much of the advice can be applied to employees seeking advancement and greater responsibility. 

Gallo, A. (2014, Dec 18th). Setting the record straight on managing your boss. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from 

Gallo provides 5 practical methods of managing your boss and your career: be a solution provider, not problem provider, avoid excessive emotional expressions (e.g., crying), “under-promise and over-deliver,” friendships with your boss are complicated, and take care with self-promotion.

McMullen, L. (2015, Aug. 3). 6 tips for ‘managing up’ and what that even means. U.S. News and World Report: Money. Retrieved from

McMullen provides her description of managing up and the following suggestions for doing it successfully: establish ground rules (early in the relationship), get specifics (avoid vague assignments), check your priorities with your supervisor, create standard procedures for regular tasks, learn about the vision, mission, and tactics of the organization, and after establishing credibility, competence, and confidence, share your ideas. 

Brooks, C. (2015, Oct. 16). Speak up: 5 things your boss wants to hear you say. Business News Daily. Retrieved from

This short article reports on the results of a survey of 1500 people, which shows five things. Leaders want their unit members to be willing and capable to grow their skills, do more, be solution providers, advance their careers, and improve the workplace environment. This suggests leaders want collaborators in their leadership role. 

Myatt, M. (2012, Nov 30). My advice on managing up – Don’t. Forbes. Retrieved from

Myatt cautions that managing up can look like self-promotion or other negative behaviors that can have a deleterious effect on your career. He suggests an approach focusing on your job, and provides six points about navigating your relationship with the boss.

Taylor, N. F. (2016, Sept. 22). Managing up: Help your boss help you. Business News Daily. Retrieved from:

Taylor highlights 3 behaviors to help you manage up: earn trust, give regular feedback, be a “team player.” She suggests one of the best ways to manage up is to learn how to adapt to the boss in a way that gets the work done faster and better.

Badowski, R., & Gittines, R. (2003). Managing Up: How to Forge and Effective Relationship with Those Above You. New York: Currency Books. 

Rosanne Badowski, who worked side by side with legendary GE CEO Jack Welch, describes what it was like to manage up as a woman in a high profile position. She offers reflections on 15 topics such as preparedness, common sense, adaptability and communication, that emerged as important for managing up.

Dealing with a Difficult, Toxic, or Abusive Leader

There are a variety of forms of “bad bosses.” Here, we provide some resources to manage that person. 

Lubit, R. H. (2004). Coping with Toxic Managers, Subordinates, and Other Difficult People. New York: FT Prentice Hall. 

Lubit advocates an emotional intelligence approach to dealing with difficult, toxic people. This book outlines a typography of various kinds of “bad” managers (e.g., narcissistic, control freaks, unethical, bullying, chauvinists, compulsive, bunt out) and specific advice on how to deal with them. Each section ends with a bibliography for further reading. This text is a compendium for managing relationships with difficult people.

Scott, G. G. (2014). A Survival Guide for Working with Bad Bosses: Dealing with Bullies, Idiots, BackStabbers, and Other Managers from Hell. New York: AMACOM.

This easy to read book offers vignettes that describe various forms of bad bosses and practical advice for managing relationships with them. This book can also be used by supervisors to reflect on their leadership style and avoid committing bad boss behaviors.

Lundqvist, D. S. (2014). Dealing with Horrible Bosses. Los Gatos, CA: JNR Publishing Group.

Sometimes it is time to leave. Lundqvist details some escape strategies for leaving a bad situation and what to look for in your next one.


Boundaries are an essential skill, especially when managing difficult bosses. 

Bottke, A. (2011). Setting Boundaries with Difficult People. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 

This book provides an overview of boundaries and a set of skills for implementing them within your self and within your relationships. It emphasizes that one of the key components to dealing with difficult people is to assess your own behavior and cease bad habits and destructive patterns that feed into the bad relationship. It also addresses the need to confront your own anger and other emotions that arise from boundary violations caused by bad bosses, difficult people, and others in your life.

Cloud, H., & Townsend, J. (1992). Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO to Take Control of Your Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

The stress that results from negative workplace interactions can have broad reaching unintended negative consequences for leaders and unit members alike. These negative consequences can extend into personal lives and health. It is important for unit members to both have appropriate boundaries especially with their leaders in order to grow and maintain a positive healthy unit culture. This easy to read book provides practical guidance for the development of appropriate interpersonal boundaries.

Additional Resources

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