Managing up only really works when you're dealing with your direct superior. Basically, managing up is about getting to know your boss - what makes him or her tick, how he or she likes to communicate, what his or her weakness is, etc. And then once you know these things, you can win your boss over or take steps to make sure that your boss/manager is getting his/her part of the work done. It might sound like a pain, but this gives you an advantage within the company, especially if you're after a promotion.
My personal experience with managing up was when I had a boss who clearly didn't know what she was doing with the project. She'd make one plan and discard it the next day, much to everyone's frustration. I realized that maybe she was getting overwhelmed by all the goals we had to meet and confused about what direction to take. I decided to start presenting options to my boss during meetings, and then telling her which ones I preferred. This seemed to work for her and helped give the team some direction.