I realise again and again the challenges leaders have in leading upwards. On the one hand it is understandable: how do I give my honest views to my superior, knowing that he/she has the power over my salary, my bonus, my appraisal?

At the same time this is what the superior often asks for: honest feedback, good suggestions that will help the business grow and authenticity.

A few days ago a supervisor shared with me the following: “My boss became angry and criticised me for something I had not done. He had good reason to criticise me and I knew I was in the wrong. However, I felt so bad and ashamed that my work performance fell. I worked worse because I felt worse. And I hate that. I am upset not about what he said, but the negative impact it had on my work performance.”

I wonder whether this happens more often than not. In this situation she was able to voice this to her boss – a feat that months ago would never have been thought possible by both the employer and the supervisor. And yet: because she was able to step into that scary space and share this, both won. It was a challenge for the supervisor and food for thought for the employer. After discussing this with the supervisor she confirmed my assumption: “because I can trust him and have a good working relationship with him, I was able to say what I did. And I feel I am working better now than before!”