6 Reasons to Give Your Team More Upward Exposure

“If I bring my SME along to the meeting, my boss will think I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“She’s a little rough around the edges. She’s not ready for that kind of exposure.”

“Not all exposure is good exposure. What if he says something stupid?”

These are just a few of the reasons managers give for keeping their employees in the background doing the heavy lifting, while they present the results and negotiate the political landscape. Of course, from one perspective that makes a lot of sense. It’s more efficient to have the workers doing the work, and let the managers explain it. But there’s also much lost in such division of labor.

When a manager serves as an Ambassador, they know that true advocacy also involves teaching their team how to position the work that they do.

6 Reasons to Give Your Team More Upward Exposure

    1. The Spotlight Will Show Up When You Least Expect It
      Perhaps the most pragmatic reason to get your team comfortable speaking at the next level is that someday, you won’t be around and they’ll need to. Some exec will start asking questions as they poke about, and if your employee’s not prepared, he’ll likely stick his foot in his mouth.
    2. It’s the Best Way to Understand the Bigger Picture
      No matter how many times you explain “why” you are asking your team to do something, somehow when your boss says it, the lightbulbs go off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my managers say, “You know I said that exact thing, but when you said it, they listened.” Sure it’s frustrating. But the point isn’t who gets credit for getting through–the point is getting through.
    3. They’ll Learn By Watching You
      Bringing your employees along gives them a great chance to watch you in a more senior environment. They’ll learn more from watching than anything you could tell them.
    4. They’ll Learn By Watching Your Boss
      I’ll never forget the first time I walked onto the C-level floor. The atmosphere was completely different than the scurry below. There was a calm intensity and standard protocol. Not easy to explain. The only way I learned to swim in those waters was to watch the bigger fish.
    5. The Preparation Is Great Development
      The conversation you have while preparing for, and debriefing, the session is full of opportunities for growth and connection.
    6. It Takes Time to Build a Brand
      Don’t wait until Jane is perfectly ready to be promoted until you start talking up her accomplishments and skills. A slow and steady trickle of positive exposure will lay a strong foundation when it’s time to throw her hat in the ring.

It’s natural to want to protect your team until their completely ready for higher level exposure. Don’t throw them into the spotlight under-prepared, but regular exposure to higher level people and strategy will go a long way in accelerating their development.

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Posted in Results & Execution and tagged , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

3 Comments

  1. This information is very helpful in moving forward. As the former director of a program that had 10 frontline managers that covered their respective departments, I found it difficult to balance out the exposure. All managers were capable in their respective roles; however some were all to eager to step into the limelight (usually messed things up by being overly eager with no preparation), and others had no desire for the exposure. I think this is why it’s important to know the future plans and aspirations of all new hires. It’s also important to know their personality types (Introvert/Extrovert), as you don’t want to push too hard or not enough when it comes to exposure. I believe in the concept that there’s a leader in every chair – so inclusiveness and sharing the vision will always be the key to establishing good solid working relationships. Thanks for the tips.

  2. Great points, Karin! When I was a VP I always invited my Directors and others into meetings because they had the details, they experienced challenges first hand. When detailed questions came up, I’d have to go to them to get the scoop anyway. Also, yes, they needed to take the time to prep to meet with the senior execs, but I’d also need them to spend time with me to make me the expert which was not necessarily the best way to spend our time.

    Will share!

    ~ Alli

    • Alli, So awesome to hear from you. You raise an important point… every minute they spend “training” us, is less time they can spend on the work. Sure we need to understand it… but every little detail?

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