Visibility is essential to professional success. However, when many professionals really want to be more visible, they just focus on the relationship they have with their bosses, which is a big mistake.

Your boss is a person in the stakeholder hemisphere. Although they have some control over your career opportunities and growth, they are not the ultimate solution. Should this relationship be maintained? Absolutely! But if you only focus on being visible and “seen” by your boss, your strategy will fail. Your boss has his own priorities; Although a good boss wants to see their employee excel, they are also likely to focus on their own agenda.

I’ve seen it time and time again when a boss moves on to a new role, or a new company, or (gasp) gets fired, and all of their direct reports are nervous because they don’t really have a close connection with d other people in the organization. Essentially, you don’t want to be in a scenario where your boss leaves the company or goes to another department, leaving you without any other strong relationships with your company’s key stakeholders. There are also situations in which your boss is not always liked or is considered by others to be difficult to live with.

Do you want to be seen the same just because you report to that person, or do you want to own how other key stakeholders see you? Senior level meetings are a powerful career advancement tool for building relationships within an organization.

What is a level meeting?

Top level meetings are meetings with your boss’s boss without your boss present. For example, let’s say the VP of Sales has four managers reporting to him. A top-level meeting would occur when the VP of Sales meets with the direct reports of his four managers.

Why do they occur?

Senior level meetings are an important management tool and should not be viewed as negative or over the top of your boss’s head. The goal should be to maintain and increase communication so that all parties learn more about what is going on in the organization from every perspective. Additionally, senior-level meetings provide opportunities to develop professional relationships, especially if you don’t have regular interactions with upper management.

How to program a level jump?

I’ll be honest, a good leader periodically holds high-level meetings with their team. But it’s no surprise that many leaders don’t always check on members of their extended team or make it a priority. If senior-level meetings aren’t part of your organization’s culture, you should consider reaching out to senior managers yourself (but go ahead of your boss first and explain why you’d like the opportunity to meet with their boss ). Some bosses might push this away, but theoretically they shouldn’t stop you from asking for a higher-level meeting. Once you’ve spoken with your boss, here’s a sample email you can send to your boss’s boss. Please adapt it to your scenario:

Hi [skip-level boss’s first name],

My name is [your name]and I work with [your boss’s name] as [your title]. If possible, I would like to schedule 30 minutes to learn more about your role at [company name]. I would like to know more about your background and see if you have any advice on my career development.

When you get the chance, could you please share your availability over the next few weeks, or can I work with [skip-level boss’s admin’s name] schedule time with you?


[your name]

What happens during the meeting?

First, keep in mind that you asked for the meeting. Even if it’s your boss’s boss, it’s your responsibility to prepare well for the meeting and come up with thoughtful questions and topics for discussion. A higher level meeting is not time to criticize or give feedback on your boss. This is also not the time to discuss salary, promotions or additional responsibilities. Remember that the topics you discuss with your boss’s boss will most likely come back to your boss. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to tell them.

So what do are you talking about? Here are some examples of questions to ask. Make changes so it makes sense to you and your organization.

Team alignment

  • What are your goals for the department this term? This year? In five years ? How do you think we will achieve these goals?
  • What do you think are our team’s main priorities for this year?
  • How can our team make more meaningful contributions to the business?
  • What should our team improve?

Business growth

  • How do you see the company evolving in the next three years?
  • What initiatives are planned this year?
  • Which competitors are you most concerned about?
  • What industry trends concern or excite you?

Professional growth

  • How was your career in this company?
  • What should I focus on at this stage of my career?
  • What skills am I missing if I want to progress?
  • What would you say to your younger self about career advancement?

Another insightful question to ask: what is asking or taking up the most of your time right now? (This is a great way to get insight into the top level boss’ top priorities in the organization.)

And what happens after the meeting? Always send a follow-up note after the meeting thanking the upper-level boss for their time. And if you said you would follow through on something, make sure you do. Also consider requesting a quarterly meeting and putting it on the calendar as soon as possible.

Arika Pierce is the author of I can. I’m going. Look at well as leadership coach and founder of Piercing Strategies.


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