Dealing With a Difficult Boss? New Book Uncovers How to Successfully “Manage Up” to the Most Common Problem Boss Personalities

Atlanta – February 26, 2019 – The corporate workplace culture is often an ‘us vs. them’ hierarchy pitting leadership against their subordinates and vice versa. Today, Leadership Expert Dana Brownlee is out to change that archaic mindset for the modern workplace with the release of The Unwritten Rules of Managing Up: Project Management Techniques from the Trenches (published by Berrett-Koehler) providing refreshingly practical and candid insight into the best practices and techniques that project managers have successfully used for decades to manage a wide range of bosses –from the perfectly competent to the downright dysfunctional.

“It’s time we shatter that ‘superhero leader’ misconception and embrace a truly team-centric workplace culture where communication, ideas, and problem-solving flow not just from the top down, but also from the bottom up,” says author Dana Brownlee. “I believe that a key to success for virtually EVERYONE in today’s workplace is to adopt a ‘managing up’ mentality in which subordinates proactively help senior leaders be more successful, even if they’re not the perfect boss,” added Brownlee.

Depending on the specific boss and work situation, managing up can involve different behaviors and skills.  Oftentimes, Brownlee says ‘managing up’ entails a subordinate customizing their work or communication style to better suit their manager. It often means taking things off their boss’s plate to make their boss’ job easier and, in turn, optimizing success for the overall project or task at hand.  Ultimately, managing up compels subordinates to tell their boss what they need to hear (not just what they want to hear) and otherwise tactfully navigate those prickly conversations that can oftentimes be the difficult but necessary ingredient to avoid project or organizational missteps if not all out calamity.

Brownlee introduces her ‘Boss Temperament DEFCON scale’ allowing readers to assess and address their boss and workplace situation ranging from the Defcon 5 (good boss/state of peace) down to the Defcon 1 (horrific boss/be prepared for war ‘worse-case’ scenario).   The book then delves into six difficult boss personalities (along with the great boss type) and addresses how readers can learn to support each one:

  • The Tornado

“I hope you don’t mind me intimidating everyone with my overbearing nature at your team meetings…I’m just trying to help you speed things along.

  • The Clueless Chameleon

“I’m not exactly clear on what I’m looking for, but I’ll be sure to hold you responsible when I don’t get it…”

  • The Wishful Thinker

“Would you please boil the ocean…and solve world peace too while you’re at it?”

  • The Meddlesome Micromanager

“Don’t mind my hovering over you…I’m sure you’re doing a great job! By the way, can I get another status update later today?”

  • The Naked Emperor

“I love the sound of my own voice. Aren’t my ideas brilliant?”

  • The MIA Boss

I’m sure you guys have everything under control. I’ll be traveling the next few months, so holler if you need me.”

  • The Great Boss

‘The Unwritten Rules of Managing Up’ draws not only from Brownlee’s research and experience in helping Fortune 500 companies over the past two decades, but it also includes anecdotal advice (and statistics) from nearly 1,200 survey respondents who completed her Managing Difficult Bosses research survey. Their candid feedback provides a refreshingly practical element that make the tips and techniques both relatable and authentic.

While the primary audience is the young professional or more seasoned professional working with senior leaders, the book also offers detailed advice for senior leaders interested in addressing their blind spots and working toward a more collaborative, results-focused leadership approach. The book sparks a long overdue candid conversation between subordinates and leaders on how they can truly work together for mutual success.

The Unwritten Rules to Managing Up: Project Management Techniques from the Trenches by Dana Brownlee (ISBN: 978-1-5230-9818-7) is published by Berrett-Koehler and available for $29.95 at and bookstores across the country.

About Author Dana Brownlee

Ranked as the  #1 Leadership Influencer on the Project Management Institute’s website, Dana Brownlee, PMP, is an energetic and innovative corporate trainer, speaker, and workshop facilitator who helps individuals and teams reach new levels of performance.  She is the founder of Professionalism Matters, a corporate training company based in Atlanta, and previously worked at AT&T, IBM Consulting, and EMC Corporation.  Her corporate advice has been featured in Working Mother, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and Fast Company. A dynamic speaker, Brownlee has presented to audiences across the United States and globally. More can be found at