Leadership is A Behavior, Not a Position
Leadership is A Behavior, Not a Position
One of Joan’s readers asked “How do I get them to realize that I am not “Just a Secretary?” What approach would you recommend to change the general executive’s perspective of this role as “just a secretary”?
For years when people asked what I did for a living, I was embarrassed to admit that I was a secretary; often times saying “I’m just a secretary.” Before you can change the executive’s perspective of your role, you must first change your own perspective. I did this by becoming a member of IAAP. That is where I finally met peers who understood that the career I had chosen was more than just a job, it was a profession.
My self-esteem grew by leaps and bounds as I became more active in IAAP. I went from a follower to a leader taking on more and more responsibilities. Ultimately, these leadership skills directly translated to my job. My manager noticed the difference in my professional demeanor. I was more vocal and went from just taking directions to asking questions, and making suggestions. I asked about the company direction and our department’s role in the company. I then asked how my manager’s role fit into the company’s goals. Once I had that information, I was able to make suggestions on how to help my manager meet his objectives. Eventually, my manager’s perception of me changed from secretary to partner.
You don’t have to take the same route I did to get to that point. Start by becoming more involved in your manager’s daily activities. If you’re not having regular one-on-ones, I suggest you begin there either daily or weekly. Take that time to ask questions about his meetings, are there any action items you can follow up on from the meetings, are there any impending phone calls or situations you need to be aware of, can you create a template for his staff meeting agenda. These are just a few ideas to show your manager that you understand how business works and you want to be part of it. I have also written an article in the PlanetAdmin newsletter, Planetary Motion, on how to become a leader in your field, which may help you change the perception of a “secretary” in your company.
Also start referring to yourself as an administrative professional or as an assistant. If your manager is still using the term secretary, correct him and let him know how to properly refer to you when introducing you to someone in person or in email. For example, “My assistant, Joanne, will be following up with you to schedule that meeting.”
Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of dressing professionally. If you arrive at work dressed as if you could go to the beach or the nightclub directly from work, you will not be taken seriously. You will be perceived as someone who is only there to collect a paycheck until they can go do what they would really rather be doing. However, don’t go in the opposite direction of being “dowdy” either. Some women have a preconceived notion that an assistant
must dress conservatively to the point of looking like a schoolmarm from 1935. This does not mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars on a wardrobe. What it does mean is that you dress appropriately for the office.
Just realize that this process of changing your manager’s perception will not happen overnight. But be patient, even if he never gets to that point, I believe you will feel the difference in yourself.
Joanne Linden is a seasoned administrative professional with over 25 years of experience working with CEO’s of global billion dollar enterprises. Author and guest lecturer, Joanne brings years of experience and organizational skills that set the standard for clarity of mission and excellence in execution.
Co-Author of “Sitting on a File Cabinet, Naked, WIth a Gun”, Joanne is also Founder and
Senior Trainer with PlanetAdmin LLC.
For Information see: http://www.PlanetAdmin.net
For more information and to request a CV from Joanne, write: [email protected]
Earlier this week Joan wrote about email usage in her Monday Motivators blog. I know that one of the points she made was that we often check our inbox every time we hear a notification and that is too many times during the course of a day. It just ends up distracting us and disrupting our workflow. I turned my email notification setting off a long time ago but I still find myself checking in far too frequently (not to mention the amount of times I check Facebook and twitter). While all the new technology on staying connected is wonderful it does distract me from doing tasks like writing, creating web site content, editing and all the other offline things that I need to focus on.
Well, there is a great tool out there that I found called Freedom. . Its an internet blocking software that you download to your computer (Windows & MAC). You set the amount of time you would like to be free from internet and it actually cuts you off from all internet activity.
Freedom will not allow you to go back online until the time is up. If you absolutely have to go back online you must reboot your computer. I am actually using the tool right now as I write this. Its a simple yet wonderful tool that helps cut down on multitasking and distractions that can keep you from being productive and doing your best work.
Anything that promotes freedom is okay in my book!
Dave Burge sneaks in a blog post:
I am taking the opportunity to post this blog while Joan is on the road coming back from a client in Washington State.
First let me congratulate you on your special week and day. I am sure it is not said enough but “Thank You” for all your efforts and hard work in keeping America and the rest of the world organized and moving in the right direction; which brings me to the point of this blog.
Having been married to Joan for almost 33 years and seeing her develop her talents to promote this chosen career path, helping the Administrative Professional achieve recognition, goals, and a stature in the work place community I ask that you take a moment and reflect on what I am about to say.
You may not realize it but this profession has more to it than just being someone’s assistant. It prepares you for all the other things life deals out. You are a better daughter, son, spouse, life partner, soul mate, mother, father, friend, caregiver, cook, cleaner, driver just to name a few. Your passion, training, organizational skills, problem solving, and just plain fixing things, carries over from your career to the rest of your life every day. Just stop and think about all the fires you and you alone have put out both personally and professionally. Smile, you know I am right.
I know many of you have had the opportunity to meet Joan personally and know that her passion for you is deeply rooted and never ending. I too have had the pleasure of seeing this in Joan. Many of you know that I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a little over 2 years ago and have undergone 2 surgeries and chemotherapy since that time. Why do I mention this? Because she uses her years of learning and teaching to keep me, our kids, our grandchildren and her business on track. Every day she continues to be inspired by all of you. She tells me this daily.
Thank you for your noble work.
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