Brilliant C-Suite

5 Leadership Skills Leaving Them Wondering “Who’s the Boss”?

Admins juggle a lot of responsibilities and are constantly organizing the flow around the office – in particular to their Executive. Think about all the ways we plan for our Executives, from their daily agendas, to the outlines for their meetings, when they will speak to whom – even what office supplies to use. A mark of a phenomenal EA is how well they manage their executive – it should really leave everyone wondering, “who is the boss?”. 

It’s not a case of being abrupt, demanding or confrontational, but more so using the skills that you have acquired throughout your career to coax them in to assisting you in fulfilling the demands of your role, and in turn fully supporting and assisting them. To help our EAs and PAs evaluate their performance and opportunities, we have created 5 Leadership Skills to leave them guessing about who is really the boss. Here are some Points of Wisdom (POW) to consider:

POW #1 – Schedule Time

It’s no secret that your executive is incrediblybusy and finding time to break away from their daily routine/schedule for even five minutes to have a catch up could be incomprehensible to them, or they may think it’s not necessary.

Think about what time you need with them and how frequently. It may be that you’d like to catch up with them each morning for five or 10 minutes to discuss the day’s agenda, and then have a 30-minute meeting every other week to discuss any other business or forthcoming appointments. Look at their calendar and see where you can schedule in the time to meet with them – it may be 5 minutes before the working days starts, or five minutes at the end to iron out the “ins” and “outs” of tomorrow.

Schedule in your slot and send your executive an invitation – with a message which states why you have selected this slot and what you would like to discuss – e.g. “I would like to catch up with you first thing tomorrow morning to go through the following points…” or “You have a meeting with Mr. Jones tomorrow at 10am, the notes for the meeting are attached – need to run through a few points beforehand at 9.50am, before you meet Mrs. Smith for lunch.” You’ll find they will be hard pushed to decline the invitation, if you clearly confirm the reason for the meeting and outline your agenda, making it clear as to why the meeting needs to happen. To ensure the meeting is not overlooked once it is agreed, make sure you “flag it” – this will highlight that the meeting/catch up is important, and ensure it doesn’t “slip” their mind.

Regular meetings with your executive are crucial for the development of your working relationship, as well as getting to know and respect each other on a more personal level – a PA and Executive who have a great relationship will tell you this.

POW #2 – Put Yourself in Their Shoes

In order to be able to work with your executive and support them to the best of your abilities, you need to understand how they operate, what their role entails and get into their frame of mind – put yourself in their shoes. What areas of the business do they operate within? Are you well versed in these areas?

If not, it may be time to look at expanding your role and the support you offer by getting to grips with the real intricacies of the role of your executive. If they are in the field of finance, embark on a short course or seminar which will enable you to gain an insight into the areas in which they operate. This will undoubtedly help your career no end; having knowledge and skills in a different sector of industry, but also being able to support your executive whilst being more attuned to their role.

A management or leadership course could also be a great way to get into the frame of mind of your boss and allow you to understand and grasp their role more intimately. This will not only give you more confidence and the opportunity to expand your expertise and, in turn, your career progression, but it will also enable you to gain a deeper insight in to the demands, pressures and requirement of your Executive’s role, and enable you to support and manage them more efficiently, on a genuine level.

POW #3 – Look and “Be” the Part

You might have heard the old adage, “Dress for Success,” and though the saying is correct in the first impressions, it is just the tip of the iceberg in the concept of “Look and Be the Part”. The way you look and present yourself in your role is not solely about the way you dress – although it does play its part. Looking and being the best PA you can be in order to support and manage your executive is about always remaining professional, presenting yourself in the best possible light and seeking out ways in which you can continue progressing in your career and assisting your executive in progressing in theirs.

Seek out ways in which you can stand and really take command of your role. This could be anything from making a conscious decision and taking action over your comfort zone, as well as requesting training in new areas of the business. Or requesting funding/investment to attend an industry event or seminar which will enable you to network with your peers and learn top tips on how to progress in your role, to putting yourself forward for a new project. If your executive sees you are serious and passionate about your career, they will understand how important it is for you to succeed in assisting them and should not really want to hinder your career progress.

Your executive/boss needs to have the confidence that you are fully capable in your quest to support them and know that you are serious about having a successful career. Once the penny drops, and the results start showing up, they will subconsciously be more open to you managing them. Your ultimate goal is to aim high, step out of your comfort zone and your find achievement in supporting them with their success.

As with professionals in any area of industry, there may be people within the company who the executive does not necessarily get along or “gel” with. As a PA, this is simply not an option. It’s over to you to cultivate a favorable working relationship, in which you both are working together in harmony, and in effect making each other’s lives easier – this may not necessarily be on the top of the list of important things to do for your executive, but it has to be on yours, in order for you to be as successful as you possibly can be.

A good relationship between the two of you is the foundation from which your career can succeed and progress. If you refrain from tackling any issues you have which prohibit you from carrying out your role effectively, be assured your personal and professional growth will be stunted, as will the progression and perception of the profession overall.

POW #4 – Communicate on the Same Level

Communicating effectively with your Executive may come natural to some, especially those of us who have invested many years growing into our roles. However, many EAs find themselves shaky and unsure when they are speaking with their Executive. Let’s go back to “Look and Be  the Part”. 

Your Executive can smell BS or fear. When you are communicating to your Executive, you need to be on their level. You need to understand that what you are communicating to them is important to their performance and overall, the success of the company. The value you see in your role will determine how you approach your Executive.

Learn how to navigate the communication with your executive in a way that is direct, logical but respectful. Learn to speak with “Executive Presence” (@forbes), whether it is for a room full of executives, or just your own boss. Between the two of you and your roles, no one has time for misunderstandings or overly-emotional responses. If something is wrong, you address it directly in a timely manner and prepare what will happen next as a solution to move forward. This is generally where most EAs get tripped up. No one likes delivering unpleasant information, but to move forward, this element of communication is crucial. Master learning how to deal with difficult situations with tact and facts, and be able to speak to your Executive about any subject, on their level – they will respect you for it. 

POW #5 – Mutual Respect

Throughout the journey of developing a strategic partnership with your Executive, they will be evaluating your performance, your attitude, and skills. The way you handle yourself, will determine how the level of respect and mutual trust will grow. Seeing your authentic desire to dedicate yourself to your role as a leader, as well as an admin, will only encourage them to respect you more. 

It doesn’t stop there. EAs must learn to have respect for their Executives. It is true that some are a little easier to respect than others, but there is always somewhere to start. Perhaps you have respect for their visions, how far they have come, what they have accomplished, how they achieved success. Start there. Respect grows with focus on the positive. The amazing thing is that respect begets respect. If your Executive sees that you have an honest respect for them, theirs for you will grow. 

Thank you for reading my blogs. Your likes and shares continue to inspire me.  

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