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Leading Up, Down, Side to Side

Mar 08, 2021

Navigating a U.S. Navy ship at chow time is an exercise in spatial awareness.

While I was aboard the U.S.S. Kearsarge:

❌ The deck with blue tiles was “Office Country”—no enlisted allowed
❌ A gangway could be closed at any time for cleaning
❌ Long lines snaked through the ship depending on the time of day

Navigating an organization requires similar spatial awareness.

I call this “Up, Down, and Side-to-Side”:

Working productively with your boss

Leading and developing your direct reports

Collaborating with peers inside your own function or department

Collaborating with peers in other parts of the business

As on the ship, there are established rules and changing conditions that will dictate your best course of action at any given time.

This week, I’ll be exploring each of these directional relationships in greater detail.

1. Write your name on a slip of paper.
2. Write the name of your boss above your name and those of your direct reports below it.
3. Write the names of 2-3 peers inside your department to the left of your name and 2-3 peers outside your department to the right.
4. Using a scale of 1-10, note the quality of your current relationship with each individual.