Recently, I found myself looking for a show to binge watch while I edited videos. I don't watch TV much, but for some reason, I was just in the mood for some background noise. I came across a reality show, SoCosmo, it looked interesting so why not? I was planning to focus on my work and not the show. That plan lasted all of three minutes. I certainly did not expect to watch the entire season, much less to be inspired to write this blog. But I was completely pulled in and probably not for the reason you may think. While others may be intrigued by the overall story-line, I was captivated by the leadership style of the Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles and by the intricacies of the office politics. I found myself literally taking notes! In the first 15 minutes, they covered major topics that Administrative Professionals deal with every single day. It was like watching an inside view of our daily lives, and I couldn't look away. Leadership styles, managing reorganizations and restructuring, asking for a raise, receiving criticism, dealing with conflict resolution, having confidence in your role, team members having serious misconceptions of what assistants do and their role in organizations, anticipating the needs of your executive and yes, even getting coffee.
I still can't believe that a reality show inspired this blog, but when you are open, you can find teachable moments in the most unexpected of places.
Understanding Leadership Styles
Joanna Coles has a unique leadership style, and honestly, I love it! She is bold, driven, to the point, very confident, has high expectations, is not afraid to lead and not look back to see who is following. Without question, she is also purposeful in her leadership role and clearly puts a high value on her staff and developing their careers. Obviously, she is passionate about empowering women and doesn't shy away from the hard discussions. She takes a keen interest in her team's professional development and is approachable when they need her. How can you not admire that kind of leadership?
If you have been in this industry for very long, you will learn that executives have diverse leadership styles and finding the right way to mesh their leadership style with your working style can be a challenge... but not impossible. Learning to mold your support style with your executive's leadership style requires intentional observation. So often, we can get caught up in the busyness of our work that we miss the opportunities to pay close attention to the signals that our executives are giving us every day. They may not be shouting it from the rooftops, but if you observe carefully, you will learn their leadership style and figure out how you can change your working style to accommodate them. Take notice when they are frustrated with processes or results; when they are anxiously standing at your desk asking for something; when they need you to be proactive and take charge; when they are overwhelmed; and even when they need you to grab them a cup of coffee. Paying attention to these cues can be the key to learning their leadership style and successfully building that dynamic business partnership.
Match Their Energy
Don't be afraid to actively engage with your executive and match their energy level. If your support style is more relaxed than your executive's then get ready for a bit of a learning curve. In the first two minutes, you can see that Joanna is high energy and moves at lightning speed. Figuring out how to match that level of intensity can be difficult when you are knee deep in your work, but being ready, engaged, and mentally present is a lesson worth learning.
Be Ready and Willing to BE the
I love his definition of pivot: Any thing or person on which something or someone functions or depends vitally
In short, you are the pivot of your executive's work life. In most cases, you are the pivot of your entire organizations. So yes, you are vital to your business partner, your company, and your team. Anticipating your executive business partner's needs before they ask is something that takes time and is generally in Admin-101. However, learning to be the pivot, well that is another thing entirely. Successfully owning this role requires you to develop your business acumen and business partnership skills. I have mentored many Administrative Professionals who struggle with this merely because they do not understand the value and importance they bring to their executive and organizations.
It can be surprising where you find teachable moments. I encourage you to be on the lookout for them, be open to when and where they come, and most of all be willing to make the adjustments when you find them. So take a deep breath, look yourself in the mirror, give yourself permission to be that important and own your space.
Taking our seat together,