It’s Your Job to Keep Chasing Your Boss

It’s ironic – and common – when your boss is not responsive to your requests as you try to do what he or she asked you to do. Here are four quick tips for influencing your boss to act.

#1 – Empathize: make your boss’s priorities your priorities.

Putting yourself in your boss’s shoes helps you understand where your priorities fit. This can help you better plan the timing and messaging of your request. Be sure to tie your request for action to one of his or her priorities.

#2 – Be assertive: not a ‘yes man’ but not a ‘no man.’

Speak up and be assertive. Ask for what you want and say what you think – respectfully, of course. Your job is to express your good ideas and opinions to help get to the best, informed decision. Once you’ve weighed in and been heard, you may need to buy into a different decision. Know when it’s time to defer.

#3 – Speak powerfully: clear, concise and compelling.

Boil down your message; share the headlines and your ‘ask’ clearly. Be ready to share details only if needed. Consider the WIIFH (What’s in It for Him or Her). Help your boss see how taking the action will help him or her. Explain the impact of acting and not acting. Also, consider the boss’s communication style preferences (e.g., DiSC or MBTI) and adjust your approach accordingly.

#4 – Be persistent: keep chasing.

Yes, it would be nice if you didn’t have to follow up with your boss. Don’t take it personally. Stick with it and do all you can do within reason.

One common situation where many people stop chasing their boss – at their own peril – is having regular touch points. Consistent communication is important — even if you don’t think you need input and even if you seem to be the only one pushing for this. Building a trusting and connected relationship and keeping your boss informed of your successes and challenges will help you, your team and your initiatives gain his advocacy and be more likely to succeed.

Keep fighting the good fight. You, your boss and your organization will be glad you did.


Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. As a leadership consultant and executive coach, he helps executives and their teams improve their engagement, effectiveness and impact. You can reach him at or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.