Who Influences Your Boss

and Why That's Important to You

Who's listening?

The people that influence your boss have a large and direct impact in how your boss manages you  and, therefore, your success at work.  It’s not just her boss. It’s also her peer/networking group and her spouse.  If these people think you’re great, then you’re more likely to get the best assignments and promotions and have a better salary.

It’s critically important to your career to be looked upon positively by these groups.  Let’s dig in to each one and discuss why these people are so influential and how you can capitalize on that.


Her Boss

As you would expect, one of the primary influencers of your boss and her work is her direct supervisor.  The relationship that your boss has with her boss will directly impact your relationship in many ways–both positive and negative.  If your boss is talked down to or belittled by her boss, she will likely talk down to and belittle you. If her boss is secretive and manipulative, then she is likely to be as well.  There are always exceptions to this rule, but people usually treat those in their circle of influence the same way that others treat them in a similar relationship.

Your boss’s boss also sets the tone for your leg of the organization.  For good or for bad.  This has a tremendous impact on what decisions are expected from your boss and how she is expected to handle them in your corporate culture.

How can you you affect what your boss’s boss thinks of you?

  1. Achieve great results.  If you’re getting your work done with minimal headaches for the organization and making the company money, you’re ahead of many people.
  2. Try to get assignments that put you in contact with your boss’s boss.  This will allow for a direct relationship between you and him so your direct boss will not be the only voice that describes you to you organization.


Her Network

People talk about work all of the time-not just at work, but at home and with friends. Think about it:  What is one of the first things that you ask someone that you’ve just met?  “What do you do?”  Then you will talk about your job, your responsibilities, your coworkers, etc.  What these friends and associates have to say about your boss’s work will have a lasting impression on whether they believe that they are doing the right thing or need to change course.

We, as humans, are always looking for validation.  Validation of our beliefs and our actions.


How can you impact how you’re seen by your boss’s networking group and peers?

  1. Pay attention to other aspects of your organization–not just your little piece of the pie.  This will allow you to establish friendly rapport with your boss’s peers.
  2.  Don’t be a pain in the neck for your boss.  If you are, they will talk about it their friends and when you come up in conversations later, their friends will remind them of what you did.


Her Spouse

Unlike the other two, this one is not universal.  Some bosses are very influenced by their spouse.  Others have an invisible wall between their work and family.  In my experience, the former is more common.  If you are in a family owned business this is probably the most important person that affects your boss.

Just like your boss talking to her peers and friends about work, she will talk to her spouse as well.  The discussions with her spouse will often be more along the lines of gripe sessions and unloading about the problems of the day.  People feel more secure at home and are more likely to let loose about how they really feel.  This means that of all of the people in your boss’s life that know who you are, her spouse is likely to have the worst impression of you.

What can you do to combat this negative impression?

  1. Capitalize on opportunities to make you boss’s life easier.  Obviously don’t become a doormat and allow yourself to be run over; but if you can take on a task that will allow your boss to go home early one day, do it.  Tell her you’ll handle it while she goes home and spends some much-needed time with her family.
  2. If your company has family events, be sure to take a few minutes to talk to your boss’s spouse.  You don’t have to say anything specific.  Just be there and you’ll show them that you are a real person and not just a name.  This will help to bring some humanity and compassion to how you’re thought of.


Knowing that your boss is influenced by her boss, her network, and her politics will help you to know how to handle your boss and what to expect from any given situation.  knowing what to expect will help you to prepare for success.

Who else influences your boss?  Comment below.