Mia L. Hazlett
To be a successful leader you’ll need support; no nonsense, best friend, sole confidant style support. Someone who looks out for you all the time, and is not afraid to pull the “she’s in a meeting” card when “long-winded guy” stops in for an impromptu meeting 10 minutes before the board meeting. Someone you can call well after office hours when your flight is delayed and you can kiss your connecting flight goodbye. Someone who makes sure you have your printed handouts when the projector bulb blows.
This superhero is your assistant. They are there to anticipate your needs and clear your calendar should disaster strike. Their success and ultimately, your success, depends on your communication. I’m not talking about being the “people person” and “wonderful communicator”. All CV strengths aside, this cannot be an emotional communication, for either you or them.
Communication is a two way street. If you are unclear about your needs and they have to guess or repeatedly ask, deadlines will be missed or you’ll assume you’re registered for the conference, but instead you’ll be presenting. Your assistant can’t have a soft shell, and neither can you.
Make sure you’ve paired yourself with someone who can take direction as well as give direction. Like it or not, you need a micro-manager. Although they may seem to take advantage of your “open door” policy, a good assistant will know when to barge in to make sure you have the time to get to the meeting uptown and downtown. Consider that the “no” to the hour bump back needs to come from you and not them. Your assistant is scouring through your calendar hourly, to ensure you don’t end up double or triple booked. They are constantly emailing responses on your behalf and if they have to interrupt you to make sure it goes to all except one person in your group, trust they have a reason for leaving that one person out.
The contradiction is you cannot micromanage. I know, it seems unfair, but you don’t have time to make decisions for yourself. You have to create a communication avenue which allows you to be accessible when necessary, but hands off to trust your assistant enough to live by the calendar they created for you. Yes, ultimately you have the power to go to the meeting or not, but trust there is a reason the commitments on your calendar are what they are.
You must work to foster respectful honest dialogue with your assistant. You must be able to be brutally honest, but not so harsh they fear losing their job.
This isn’t going to happen overnight. You will learn what works and what doesn’t. Ultimately, your assistant is going to be your superhero.© 2016 Mia L. Hazlett
© 2016 Mia L. Hazlett
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