Tag Archives: Guest Bloggers

Q & A with Jan Jones: Traits Executives Look For in Their Executive Assistants

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses the traits executives look for in their executive assistants.

 FlyPrivate is a proud partner and associate of Jan Jones. Jan brings
valuable, actionable information to EAs across the globe. We hope you enjoy her blogs as much as we do! 

FlyPrivate: What traits do executives look for in their executive
assistants? Does the list change over time or does it remain fairly consistent?

Jan Jones: I’ve noticed that executive assistants are like CEOs in that the list of traits these two groups apparently must have, keeps growing and growing.

The traits that make up the core strengths executive assistants need for the job, don’t exist in isolation. These traits serve as building blocks that go hand-in-hand with each other, resulting in a robust EA professional. As we discuss some of the traits, it will be obvious that they reinforce each other. They’ve withstood the test of time,
serving assistants of previous eras well, and they continue to be vital in today’s business environment. An assistant won’t go too far in the role without having at least a handful of these core capabilities, and some are more crucial than others. We’ll discuss the list of
characteristics executives emphasize more today, due to the tempo and nature of business, including before and during the current
pandemic situation.

Apart from what executives are looking for, I’ll share some traits I see as crucial to the EA’s playbook, that are underestimated or
missing in some EAs. Being intangible, they are harder to define and executives don’t always clearly articulate a desire for them.

In The CEO’s Secret Weapon, I devote 3 chapters to the
Crucial Characteristics of an Exceptional Executive Assistant, and why they should matter to the CEO. I categorize the traits into
“Tangible” and “Intangible” because I’m certain that the Intangibles are what differentiate an exceptional EA from other EAs. Intangibles are hard to quantify. They can’t be taught, but can be developed with practice. 

Two characteristics I view as inseparable are Anticipation and
Resourcefulness.  They are fundamental to the EA’s repertoire and one without the other will make the EA less effective. Since they are vital to the EA’s toolkit, let’s discuss them before going on to the other traits.

Anticipation: Executives, managers and assistants themselves all list anticipation as the most essential skill for an assistant. It’s the top skill cited today and it’s been the most desirable skill that executives have craved from their assistants for decades. They crave it because it gives them a sense of security that someone is watching out for them and they won’t be blindsided, or unpleasantly surprised by events. Ironically, this is also the skill that executives say is the
hardest to find in an EA, so let’s give it some attention here and
improve the odds of executives finding it in future.

To excel at anticipating requires that you thoroughly understand what your executive and the business are trying to accomplish. Brad Weimert, CEO of PayDirect defines this as “understanding the
intent of the mission. Knowing the intent gets you to the end goal,” and plays a key role in your ability to anticipate. Anticipation means the ability to look ahead, so assistants must become adept at
identifying what can go wrong, and make sure it doesn’t. It requires you to think forward. Envision scenarios, consider possible
outcomes, what are the pros and cons of doing things a certain way?  You must constantly be in evaluating mode so you can spot trends, anomalies, disruptions and opportunities.

To excel at anticipation also requires you to look backwards. What helpful insights did you gain from similar situations previously and how can you apply them? What went right? What went wrong and how do you make sure it doesn’t happen again?

Are there situations that are outside of the EA’s control? Sure there are. So the EA’s job is to diminish the likelihood of those situations and make them the exception, ultimately eliminating the majority of them.

Resourcefulness: From all my time and experience as an executive assistant and as a business owner, I cannot separate anticipation and resourcefulness. They are fast friends and you try to separate them at your peril. Anticipation alerts you to the pitfalls. Resourcefulness shows you how to get around them. Anticipation shows you the
opportunities. Resourcefulness shows you how to capitalize on them. Resourcefulness helps you to fix the problem once you
identify it. Resourceful EAs use whatever ways and means are
available to them to produce results. They see what needs to be done and they make it happen. They are quick on their feet.
Publisher Steve Forbes told me his assistant is “always figuring out how to get things done.” That’s what makes a resourceful assistant so valuable.

You ask why executives don’t always list Resourcefulness on their list of must-haves. It’s because they expect their assistant to get the job done. How the assistant gets the job done is of no concern to the executive. If you want a reputation for getting things done, make
Resourcefulness your faithful companion.

Let’s look at the executives’ list. We can’t discuss it all, so let’s
examine some of the traits executives said were a requirement when surveyed before Covid-19. They include Creativity, Critical Thinking, Curiosity, Communication, Decision-Making, Inter-Personal Skills (EQ), Organizational Skills, Problem-Solving and Time Management.

During this pandemic, executives are particularly appreciating traits such as anticipation, communication, organization, detail-minded and problem-solving, to keep work flowing smoothly and uninterrupted.

With the possible exception of Curiosity, there’s nothing on the
executive list that is unique to 2020. Curiosity is about having an
inquiring mind, venturing out, asking questions, being interested in the vastness of life. When you are curious, you are flexible and open to alternatives. Your work is a part of your life, so if you are curious about life, you’ll bring that curiosity to your work. If you are creative in your life, you’ll bring that creativity to your work. You are a
holistic being. You can’t compartmentalize yourself. Bring all of yourself to work and you’ll start to see results you never imagined.

Decision-Making Ability: If you want to be seen as an executive on your own merits, beyond being a representative of your executive, this is an invaluable skill you must develop. It’s timeless, it’s what separates great EAs from good EAs and it doesn’t come easy. You will have to work for it. It requires patience, dedication, commitment and desire to know the “big picture” perspective about the business and your executive. You must know it so thoroughly that the
credibility of your decisions never comes into question, and is not second-guessed by your executive or others. Frequent, meaningful communication with your executive is imperative so you are in no doubt about what they would say and do in a given situation,
because that is what you will say and do. Electronic communication has its place. For decision-making certainty, especially at the start of the relationship, in-person communication is superior because you can pick up the nuances that technology can’t deliver.

Critical Thinking: A much-requested topic in my presentations, I’m repeatedly asked about Critical Thinking by EAs, particularly when their executives push them to start thinking critically. I see the need for critical thinking in my business dealings with high-level
executives whose assistants exhibit flawed thinking and lack
problem-solving ability. It is also evident on social media where I
observe minimal analysis. If the topic is popular, if they like the writer, or if the writer offers a smattering of praise for EAs, that’s good enough for assistants to pour on the ‘likes’, no questions asked. That can’t be the criteria for evaluation. To think critically you have to set aside your personal biases, likes and dislikes and focus on the issue. Dissect, analyze, verify, determine its relevance, and draw your conclusion. Develop independent thinking. Verify your sources and question their claims. Broaden your horizons by getting your news and information from a variety of sources so you have a
diversity of opinions from which to compare, contrast and draw your conclusions.

To be a genuine Critical Thinker, you must have Courage. You have to look fearlessly at all sides of the argument, even if the thread is taking you away from where you feel mentally safe, away from the familiar ideology that insists you conform. After due consideration of the facts, you must have the courage to call it as you see it. If you can’t do that, you diminish your usefulness to your executive. They need to hear the truth from you. Be careful how you deliver it, but be a trustworthy and reliable source for your executive when they need to know the truth. Practice courage in your daily life and you won’t hesitate to do the same at work.

Organizational Skills: You can’t manage an executive or a team if you can’t manage yourself. The ability to create and keep order is a vital skill for an executive assistant who must be able to put their hands on whatever they need at a moment’s notice. In addition to an orderly workspace, all record-keeping must be up-to-date, the
status of all projects must be readily known, work inflow and outflow handled quickly, bottlenecks cleared, outstanding issues
followed up and status updated or finalized.

Participation: Adam Fidler, the UK’s preeminent EA trainer shared with me that increasingly his executive clients are telling him they want to see more participation from their assistants. They want their assistants to take part and contribute, instead of sitting
passively in the background. Adam says assistants who don’t
participate are reinforcing the old ‘secretarial’ stereotypes by not getting involved, showing any interest, or making a contribution. Adam cautions assistants, “If you act like a secretary, you’ll be
treated like one.” Speak up, let your voice be heard, share your
opinions, your observations and show your ability to problem solve.

Confidence: I heard someone say they’d like to give EAs confidence. Sorry, assistants, confidence is not something someone can bestow on you. It’s something you have to work at every day to acquire. It takes practice. How do you suppose those superstar athletes have the confidence to play their game with such certainty, taking risks and going for the gold? They train hard every day to develop their expertise. After winning the championship they get right back on court and practice some more. Their signature shot, their signature move, they practice until it is second nature. Kobe Bryant in an awards acceptance speech said, “Those times you stay up late and you work hard. Those times when you don’t feel like working. You’re too tired. You don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway.” That’s what you have to do in your job. Push yourself to mastery. As you do, you build your confidence and your credibility. You develop a sense of certainty about yourself and your performance. No one can argue with it and they won’t think of disrespecting you. Confidence is a gift you give yourself. Once you acquire it, no one will be able to take it away from you.

There are numerous other tangible and intangible skills that make up the executive assistant’s arsenal. Passion and enthusiasm for the job are high on that list because without them, the will and energy to do this challenging job would be missing. Detail-oriented,
responsible, resilient, trustworthy, diplomatic and a whatever-it-takes approach, along with the other desirable traits I discuss in my book, are the tools of the EA trade that keep the EA and the role
vital and alive. It’s what makes this profession the indispensable, but often unsung, champion of global business.


©The CEO’s Secret Weapon. The ideas expressed in this article and any text extracted from “The CEO’s Secret Weapon” are the,
intellectual property and copyrighted to Jan Jones. All rights
reserved. No unauthorized usage or duplication by any means is permitted without the express consent of the author.

Author: Jan Jones

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series!

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and
Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New
Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received
widespread acclaim from executives and executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed international
executive assistant to well-known business people, including
personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is
passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless, practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ book and visit her website:
The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their
Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on:

Q & A with Jan Jones: Smart Business Leaders are Transparent with Their Executive Assistants

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses why smart business leaders are transparent with their executive assistants.

 FlyPrivate is a proud partner and associate of Jan Jones. Jan brings
valuable, actionable information to EAs across the globe. We hope you enjoy her blogs as much as we do! 

FlyPrivate: This question is from an executive and his EA. The executive would like to know how transparent with his business and personal
objectives he should be in order to maximize the partnership with his assistant. The assistant wants to be “completely in the loop.” Are there certain things executives should handle themselves and not entrust to an EA? 

Jan Jones: Many factors contribute to how fast transparency
between executive and EA happens, or if it happens at all.
Fortunately, this executive and assistant are committed to a
long-term goal of full transparency, but saying she wants to be “completely in the loop” tells me that presently the EA feels left out at some level. Why is the executive not offering full transparency, even though they’ve been together over five years? Let’s explore some reasons why this might be the case.

Communication and trust are always major factors. Why is the
executive not trusting fully? Is the assistant yet to prove sufficient maturity in dealing with complex matters that need discretion or special handling? Does the executive have control or trust issues? Perhaps there are things the executive prefers to do himself
(because he enjoys them and nothing to do with “transparency”
issues). Are they both being flexible enough? Are they working too independently and not as a team? Are they a good fit for each other? Have they discussed their goals and objectives? Are their goals and objectives mutual, meaning do they want the same things, in the same way and in the same timeframe? All these things contribute to our perceptions about trust and transparency.

Your readers may wish to consider their own situations to
understand why there may not be full transparency in their own business relationships.

At the start of the relationship it makes sense to proceed with some caution unless you know for certain the assistant is adept at
handling high levels of sensitive information. Typically, an assistant to a CEO is privy to more confidential business and personal 
information than an assistant to a mid-level manager, so it depends on the level of the job and the experience level of the assistant. If the assistant has demonstrated their capability, the executive must share information, allowing the assistant to move into more
interesting projects that offer satisfaction from the job. High
performing assistants are not going to be satisfied with bits and pieces being doled out to them. They want challenging, invigorating work that uses their brain power.

If the executive owns the company, it’s a safe bet that virtually everything is transparent to the assistant. Since its all part of their responsibility, the assistant knows, sees and does everything. It’s the only way they can manage the executive’s affairs, because rarely does an entrepreneur, small business owner, or celebrity treat their business and personal life as separate entities. It all flows together and transparency is inevitable.

I put this question to CEO Rev. John Pellowe, about transparency with his assistant, Bonnie Pillsworth. He said “I would be
squandering the very traits (such as deep thinking) that led me to hire my EA, Bonnie, six years ago, if I were not fully transparent with her. I share everything work-related with her, including thoughts about my own leadership. I process and test ideas, communications, dreams and concerns with her and in return she is an invaluable source of expansionary thinking for me. Bonnie’s valuable
contribution to the success of our organization and my own success would be severely diminished if I were not so transparent with her.”

Bonnie added, “The more transparent John is, the better I can do my job. Knowing as much as I can about everything that’s happening in John’s work allows me to have an informed perspective that leads to sound suggestions and support. John and I practice full transparency as an integral part of our work method, and it goes both ways.”

Executives with less-experienced assistants are understandably
initially reluctant to completely hand over sensitive information. This is where trust has to be built as you test a little at a time to see how the assistant develops and shows they have what it takes.

Dave Ramsey, the famed financial advisor told me, “Show me two people who trust one another and I’ll show you an effective work relationship.”

When I was a young secretary, our managers mentored and invested hands-on time in developing their people. When my executives placed confidential information in my hands, they explained its value and how they wanted it handled. Because of my inexperience, I
appreciated that direction. With their guidance and with common sense, I learned discretion in business matters and grew confident in handling information that required discretion.

In later years, it was customary for me to have confidential
discussions with high-level stakeholders. I could easily identify who didn’t have a top assistant, or who had never mentored an assistant. They were the ones who were surprised I had unfettered access to protected information, and could speak confidently for my
executive. They didn’t comprehend that the only way I could know as much as I did is because he shared everything with me. I was his deputy. My mandate was to take charge and keep business moving.

Effective assistants are facilitators who make business life easier. They can do this because somewhere along the way, an investment was made in their growth and development. Executives who share information with their assistants set themselves up for long-term success because the assistant can step in as their deputy and save them massive amounts of time. I’ve been saying for over 20 years, “The role of the executive assistant is to give back time to the
executive.” This means they take on and manage all matters that
distract the executive from their primary purpose of running the business. The only way the assistant can do this is to have full access to information that provides a solid overview of the business, and permits them to make informed decisions.

Discussing his assistant Debbie Gross in my book “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”, CEO John Chambers said “From our first day together I let her know that my office, files and everything in my business life were hers to manage and that I had complete trust in her capabilities.”  

Concerning the executive’s personal objectives, one little boy was repeatedly disappointed because “daddy” was missing his baseball games, even though he kept promising to be there. When the
assistant found out about it, miraculously the game schedule got on the calendar and Mr. CEO, aka “daddy”, never missed another game if he could help it. Executives who are comfortable with their
assistants may share more personal goals and enlist the assistant’s help in keeping them on track. Don’t worry if the goal isn’t something earth shattering. The fact that it is your personal objective is
sufficient. One of my executives needed to lose weight. When he came back from the health resort, I made sure there were no
meetings that involved meals, and no breakfast muffins, or big slices of birthday cake were placed in front of him. So simple, but much
appreciated by my boss in meeting his goal. I kept everything
discreet, and he enjoyed the results. Executives should remember their assistant can be their biggest champion and cheerleader. Let them in, give them access and they’ll help you succeed in matters that have major business significance, or are important only to you.

Everything business related that concerns the executive must also concern the assistant. If not, the assistant can’t be effective in their role. And having said that, one area I suggest executives keep
separate and to themselves is personal emails, especially from
indiscreet friends who don’t realize your assistant has access to your business email. Keep that questionable material away from your business email inbox. If your assistant is joining you on a phone call, let the other parties know your assistant is on the line so they mind what they say. I assure you, there is such a thing as too much 
transparency, even for a seasoned assistant who has seen, done and heard it all.


©The CEO’s Secret Weapon. The ideas expressed in this article and any text extracted from “The CEO’s Secret Weapon” are the,
intellectual property and copyrighted to Jan Jones. All rights
reserved. No unauthorized usage or duplication by any means is permitted without the express consent of the author.

Author: Jan Jones

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series!

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and
Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed international executive assistant to well-known business people, including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless, practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ book and visit her website:
The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their
Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on:

Q & A with Jan Jones: The Importance of Feedback Between Executive & Assistant

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses the importance of feedback
between executives and their assistants.

 For the past five years, FlyPrivate has been a proud partner and associate of Jan Jones. Jan brings valuable, actionable information to EAs across the globe. We hope you enjoy her blogs as much as we do! 

Business meeting

FlyPrivate: How often should you meet with your EA and provide 
feedback about their performance? How important is this to the
 working relationship?

Jan Jones: Being honest and respectful does wonders for any
relationship, but especially for the delicate balance that must be struck between an executive and assistant. Feedback should be
ongoing, particularly at the start of the relationship, or if the current assistant is not performing up to standard and adjustments need to be made. If something gets dropped, or mistakes are recurring,
address them quickly so there is no undercurrent of dissatisfaction impacting the relationship. Don’t let the EA assume that everything is OK and then suddenly get hit with the news that you are not
happy with their performance. I shared in my book the example of an EA whose new boss seemed to be annoyed with her and she could not figure out why. At a social gathering she finally asked him. He said he was not a morning person so when she called out “Good Morning!” in a cheerful voice, it irritated him. The discussion about work style should have been on the EA’s priority list at the outset. Since she didn’t ask, and it obviously was an issue for him, he should have said something about it. Instead, uncomfortable months went by during that early period when they could have been building trust, respect and rapport.

When an EA is new in the job, I recommend they ask their executive if everything is satisfactory no later than at the end of the first week. Are there any challenges with communication, or work
performance? A simple “How did we do this week, are there any
issues you’d like to discuss?” should quickly let the EA know how they are faring and lets the executive know the assistant is open to feedback. When I started a new job, on the first day I would tell my boss I wanted to hear immediately if they were not satisfied with anything, no matter how minor, so I could fix it. Executives should be specific when giving feedback. Let your assistant know exactly what the issue is. Don’t beat around the bush and leave them perplexed about what you really mean. Don’t let problems build up. For me, once the relationship was established and I knew I could be candid with my boss, I shared my observations but I was careful to pick my moments. The timing has to be right or you’ll wind up doing more damage than good. Feedback works best when it is communicated sincerely and respectfully, without either party feeling intimidated, or put on the spot. It should be communicated in private because it may start out positively, but it could lead to other issues that should be discussed confidentially.

Schedule time for an informal performance discussion at the end of the first 30 days and a formal performance review at the end of the first 90 days. If things are not going well, don’t wait 90 days to
address them. Similarly, if the assistant has settled in well and you are pleased with their performance, let them know and say thank you. If the executive and assistant are working together
comfortably, they probably have sufficient rapport to be able to talk to each other about performance, expectations or
misunderstandings on a frequent basis, not just at review time. Use your instincts. If something feels uneasy, speak up and get it handled.

All relationships require effort and commitment, and the
executive-assistant relationship is no exception. Develop trust and confidence in each other. It creates a space for both of you to safely share what’s on your mind without feelings being hurt, or intentions misunderstood. When trust and support back up your relationship, it creates a sense of comfort in which you are free to thrive and do your best work.


©The CEO’s Secret Weapon. This article and any text extracted from “The CEO’s Secret Weapon” are the intellectual property and ©Jan Jones 2020. All rights reserved. No unauthorized usage or
duplication by any means is permitted without the express consent of the author.

Author: Jan Jones

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series!

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and
Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed international executive assistant to well-known business people, including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless, practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ book and visit her website:
The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on:

Q & A with Jan Jones: Can Executive Assistants Have Work-Life Balance?

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses how executive assistants can maintain some sort of work-life balance when they have no backup.

 For the past five years, FlyPrivate has been a proud partner and associate of Jan Jones. Jan brings valuable, actionable information to EAs across the globe. We hope you enjoy her blogs as much as we do! 

FlyPrivate: Do you have any advice for EAs who would like to maintain some sort of work-life balance when they have no backup and have to be available 24/7 for their executives even when taking vacation?

Jan Jones: If work-life balance is a priority for you, don’t take a job that doesn’t give you that choice and requires you to be available 24/7. Whether it’s a priority due to family commitments, or your
desire to have personal time for other interests, you make work-life choices. You have to decide your priorities and find a job that fits them.

For certain types of executives it’s expected that their EA will be on call beyond normal business hours. EAs who are accustomed to
supporting that caliber of executive know what’s required of them. For other assistants, ask about it specifically during the interview. If you are concerned about how it might come across, you could ask about the executive’s work style preferences. If they say that their weekends are family time, you’ll know that you probably won’t be disturbed over the weekend. If they go to the gym, get coffee and catch up on the news first thing in the morning, likely you can have those early hours free for your own routines. If they say “I work all hours”, you’ll know what you are in for. Pin down the executive as best you can in order to determine if you’ll routinely be required 24/7, or whether you can have some guarantee of private time
outside of regular business hours.

Business is constantly changing so even if you were told you won’t be needed 24/7, your hours may start increasing as the business
environment shifts. In that case, have a conversation with your
manager to determine if this will be ongoing or temporary and try to establish some middle ground balance that suits both of you.

One assistant shared that her boss agreed not to contact her
between 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm because that was family time when her kids did homework, ate dinner, relaxed and it gave her time to catch up with her husband. Once her kids were in bed, she would resume working if necessary. So these are the kinds of parameters you can establish with your executive to make sure you have private time, but are not completely out of reach.

I understand that assistants may feel frustrated because they don’t set the agenda and that makes life feel out of control. But even if you don’t set the agenda, you can manage the agenda. Set guidelines with your manager that work for both of you. Negotiate the
parameters as early in your tenure as possible. Know that if you let creep happen and the hours start to get longer and longer, it’s up to you to manage it. Remember though, if you are inflexible you could end up in a strained working relationship and find you are not
invited to participate in brainstorming sessions, or given meatier
assignments. You have work-life choices. Choose wisely and accept the consequences of your choices.

Being on call has been typical for higher-level executive assistants even before email and smartphones invaded the workplace. It’s
simply the nature of the EA role, especially for EAs whose executives partner closely and rely on them. 24/7 is routine for that breed of assistant who, like me, thrives on being central to the action and
appreciates the fluid nature of business. But that work style doesn’t suit most assistants. On-call EAs should remember not to overdo it. Burnout sneaks up on you and at some point even the most
committed assistant needs time to decompress and rejuvenate body and soul away from the business.

For better or worse, these days I don’t know of any
senior-level assistants who go on vacation without checking in with work at some point. If you are going on vacation and have no backup, decide with your executive how they’d like your responsibilities
covered. If they don’t want to bring in a temp, or use one of the other assistants, try not to leave them stranded. Some assistants say they like their manager to experience what life is like when they’re not around. OK, but be prepared in case they also realize what is missing when you are around. I like hearing from executives who tell me how thoughtful their assistants are, that even when the EA is not there, they’ve thought things through and made sure their executive is not left high and dry.

Showcase your anticipation skills and come up with contingency plans for when you are away. Offer to find a time when your
executive can reach you if necessary. Or, set up a time when you will check in to make sure your executive doesn’t have anything pressing they need from you. Let them know if you are able to occasionally check messages if your vacation plans permit. I’m not encouraging you to do this; I’m simply suggesting alternatives if your executive will be left to their own devices while you are gone.

In jobs where I had an assistant, when I went on vacation we set up a time for her to call me every day so we could keep current. If later in the day I had some time to spare, I would give her a quick call just to check in. Even though I had an assistant who covered for me, I
completed or got started on recurring work such as end-of-month reports, meeting agendas, signing purchase orders, etc., so work could proceed in my absence and I wouldn’t be too far behind when I got back. I briefed my executive thoroughly on the status of
outstanding projects, let him know that I would be checking in daily with my assistant, and assured him I was available if he needed to get in touch.

Being a 24/7 EA suited me because my work gives me energy. It’s a means of self-expression. The role allows me to do something I’m passionate about. If your lifestyle preferences cannot accommodate being available at all hours, then choose a job that doesn’t place such demands on your time. Your work should support your life choices and those choices should be made without guilt or anxiety. Then, in the words of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, you can have work-life harmony.


©The CEO’s Secret Weapon. This article and any text extracted from “The CEO’s Secret Weapon” are the intellectual property and ©Jan Jones 2020. All rights reserved. No unauthorized usage or
duplication by any means is permitted without the express consent of the author.

Author: Jan Jones

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series!

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and
executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed
international executive assistant to well-known business people,
including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless,
practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ book and visit her website:
The CEO’s Secret Weapon
.


The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones


We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram for the latest news and updates from FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

Why Are Assistants Always “Putting Out Fires”?

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses why executive assistants often feel like they are always “putting out fires”.

For the past five years, FlyPrivate has been a proud partner and
associate of Jan Jones. Jan brings valuable, actionable information to EAs across the globe. We hope you enjoy her blogs as much as we do! 


“An utterly frustrated assistant asked me “Why is everything last minute? Why am I always putting out fires?”

 

The nature of business is that situations change constantly and rapidly. Things happen and they have to be dealt with, whether it’s clients who have last-minute issues, a boss who is stranded en route, or technology that is malfunctioning. The executive assistant is the go-to person, so that’s who people go to. On a daily basis you wear many hats and you will be asked to put on any number of those hats at a moment’s notice. Knowing this, realize that flexibility is key. To quote management guru, Gary Hamel, you must be “as nimble as change itself.”

 

Businesses are not static. They are alive and constantly
recalibrating, so you, dear assistant, have to constantly recalibrate with it. The assistant’s role is not for the faint of heart. You have to develop a stomach for uncertainty and learn to thrive on the
challenge. But that doesn’t mean you have to live with apprehension about what fire will erupt next. There are things within your control and your job is to take control in order to lessen the chance of fires flaring up unexpectedly.”

 

Read the rest of Jan’s blog on LinkedIn and follow her to see future blog content for Executive Assistants.

©The CEO’s Secret Weapon. This article and any text extracted from “The CEO’s Secret Weapon” are the intellectual property and ©Jan Jones 2019. All rights reserved. No unauthorized usage or
duplication by any means is permitted without the express consent of the author.

Author: Jan Jones

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series!

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and
executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed
international executive assistant to well-known business people,
including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless,
practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ book and visit her website:
The CEO’s Secret Weapon
.


The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones


We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram for the latest news and updates from FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

Robust Communication: The Key to a Dynamic Executive-Assistant Partnership

For the past five years, FlyPrivate has been a proud partner and
associate of Jan Jones. Jan brings valuable, actionable information to EAs across the globe. We hope you enjoy her blogs as much as we do! 

In this article, Author Jan Jones discusses robust communication
for executive assistants.


The idea that an executive assistant is a “business partner” with their executive is widely held and enjoying popularity today. Of course, astute executives have forged successful working alliances with their stellar assistants for eons, by understanding the immense
talent an exceptional assistant brings to the table.

How did they come to understand it? Mostly by observing assistants in action throughout the various stages of business. As executives came up through the ranks, they saw assistants at every level of the organization taking on increasing levels of responsibility and
developing their capabilities. These executives skillfully harnessed and nurtured that assistant talent as the assistant grew in stature, developed their confidence, deepened their business acuity and
became a “seamless extension of the executive”© as I say in my book, “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”.

How often have you heard it said about an exceptional assistant “she runs the place?” Have you ever wondered how these assistants came to “run the place” and have the self-assurance to do it? I was
fortunate to be one of those nurtured talents known to “run the place”, so may I share first-hand that we didn’t do it by sheltering behind e-mail and voicemail when our executives were sitting in an office beside us. We didn’t send text messages to our
executives instead of getting in front of them to have a conversation about things.

Assistants who “run the place” understand that the responsibility for developing communication with our executives is in our hands, so we take every opportunity to be in personal proximity to them
because we know that to gain their confidence and respect, and help them run the business we need to:

  • Know what they know
  • Think like they think
  • Sound like they sound
  • Experience their emotions, body language, verbal cues in order to be clear on how they feel about things, and act on their behalf accordingly
  • Use the terminology they use so they know we understand what they are talking about.

Executives need big-thinking assistants with a wide range of talents, who give them the edge in a hyper-competitive global economy.
Getting this in today’s technology-dependent environment may be another matter because of the way many assistants are choosing to interact with their executives and teams.

When the practice of assistants texting and e-mailing their
executives who are sitting right next to them came to my attention, I reacted with disbelief. How, I asked, does an executive tolerate such a thing, but more importantly why would an assistant not take the opportunity to get face-to-face with their executive so they are
constantly on their executive’s radar?

“My boss doesn’t let me” is a common refrain from assistants. On closer examination, often it is because the assistant did not
previously step up, became complacent, or got discouraged and stopped trying after initial approaches failed. One executive told me, “She better try harder to get my attention”. I urge assistants to
remember your success or failure is always in your hands. Persist, but be smart about it so your executive doesn’t see you as a
nuisance. You are responsible for taking the initiative because you have the most to lose in terms of opportunities, job satisfaction, growth and advancement if you don’t.

Assistants, your executive is your best advocate and integral to your success. If you’ve been passive in your communication, if you’ve been cloistered behind electronic communication, or relying too much on AI and technology to increase your value and skills, then forgive your boss for forgetting you exist. If your boss rarely
interacts with you in person, you won’t spring to mind when an
exciting project comes up that you’d be ideal for. They won’t use you as a sounding board, treat you as a confidant, rely on your counsel, or consider you their “eyes and ears”. You’ll struggle to be an
influencer and won’t have credibility because you haven’t
established it.

If your relationship with your executive is to function as a dynamic partnership, and not just today’s feel-good buzzword, begin taking steps to spend time in each other’s company as frequently as
possible. Schedule time to meet and catch up, even briefly. Pop your head in the door and ask that question you might otherwise text about. Often, when I did that, my executives would invite me in to discuss further, or ask my opinion about something they were
working on. Those exchanges established rapport. I discovered my opinion mattered to my executive. In those one-on-one sessions I learned far more than I realized at the time. They helped me
become expert at my job and grow in stature as a valued assistant. It was not a mere partnership, it was a dynamic partnership –
compelling, productive and effective. Listening and learning directly from my executives set the foundation for the business know-how I apply in my own business today.

Now, I’m not saying don’t e-mail or text your executive. Electronic communication is the lifeblood of business and the convenience and practicality is irreplaceable in today’s workplace. What I’m saying is use your discretion. When you can communicate face-to-face, do so. If your executive is away and you have a challenging situation, pick up the phone, or use FaceTime, etc., to talk it through. You’ll quickly gauge where things stand when you hear tone, agreement,
disagreement, pleasure or frustration. From that you’ll learn how to handle a situation the next time it arises. Over time, your confidence and independence will flourish and your value to the partnership will be strengthened.

Commitment is paramount. If face-to-face communication has not been a frequent practice your executive may object, so you’ll need to persist. Pick your moments, but keep getting in front of your
executive. Make your presence known. Elevate your profile. Earn their confidence. They may feel confused by your new-found desire to take charge and expand your influence. But if you explain that you want to develop a proactive partnership, your executive will
probably welcome your initiative. Always be clear with your
executive that you are not claiming you are their “partner”, but rather you desire to function in a partnership, like allies working together. It will make a difference to those executives who feel
hostile to assistants who claim they are a “business partner”. Yes, many don’t like it, especially if the assistant has not yet proved themselves in their executive’s eyes.

Every executive who wishes to be more effective will appreciate a proactive, resourceful assistant who wants to learn and contribute more. Once you and your executive experience the value of frequent, face-to-face communication and commit to it, you will start functioning in a true alliance, sharing vision, responsibility, knowledge and experiences that enhance your performance and keep you productive, energized, engaged and fulfilled by your work.

©The CEO’s Secret Weapon. This article and any text extracted from “The CEO’s Secret Weapon” are the intellectual property and ©Jan Jones 2019. All rights reserved. No unauthorized usage or
duplication by any means is permitted without the express consent of the author.

Author: Jan Jones

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series!

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and
executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed
international executive assistant to well-known business people,
including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless,
practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ book and visit her website: The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones


We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram for the latest news and updates from FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

Emotional Intelligence for Executive Assistants

This interview was first published in April 2019. Author Jan Jones
interviews business trainer and consultant Heather Dallas about the
relevance of Emotional Intelligence for executive assistants.

Emotional Intelligence is a hot topic, but it is not a new idea. The term “Emotional Intelligence” was coined by two psychology
professors, John Mayer and Peter Salovey, in 1990. In 1995 Daniel Goleman wrote the book “Emotional Intelligence” and followed up with an article for Harvard Business Review called “What Makes A Leader”. The article contributed to the topic becoming important for business leaders and business people in general. Emotional
Intelligence is about our inter-personal and intra-personal skills. It is typically abbreviated as “EI” or “EQ” (Emotional Quotient).

These days, business is placing a premium on employees’ emotional intelligence. What’s important to the executive, must be important to the executive’s assistant. If the executive is focusing on
developing emotional intelligence personally, or within the
organization, then the assistant must do likewise. With this in mind, Jan Jones invited business trainer and consultant Heather Dallas to speak with her about the work she is doing teaching businesses about emotional intelligence, and more specifically, her work
teaching assistants about emotional intelligence. You can read about Heather’s background at the end of this interview.

Jan Jones: Heather, apart from the fact that their executives are
serious about understanding and developing emotional intelligence, why is EI relevant for executive assistants?

Heather Dallas: I’ve seen growing interest in this topic over the past few years and clients are asking about it more and more. I teach a course on emotional intelligence for executive assistants, and have seen a considerable increase in interest recently. Assistants
understand that as they serve their executives and the organization at large, they need to develop the vital skills that make up the
components of emotional intelligence. Because executive assistants are the public “face” of their executives, in many ways it is even more important for them to embody the traits of emotional intelligence, which are:

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy for Others
  • Social Skills (Relationship building and management).

JJ: I heard Daniel Goleman speak at a conference. He said that
basically emotional intelligence is how we handle ourselves, manage ourselves, lead ourselves, and how we handle our relationships.

HD: Yes, and here are a couple of theoretical definitions I use to
explain emotional intelligence: “The ability to understand how
emotions affect behavior, and do something with that information”, and “Developing awareness of your emotions and behaviors through self-reflection and noting feedback from others”.

JJ: I like the idea that in addition to understanding how emotions
affect behavior, that there is guidance on what to do with that
information. Otherwise it is just intellectual understanding and we need to be able to put the ideas into practice at work every day.

HD: Exactly. In summary, it’s inter-personal skills, meaning how you relate to others, your rapport skills, which are the central pillars in communication. Your relationship management, your intra-personal skills, meaning how self-aware you are, how authentic you are. What buttons are you pressing in others that you are not aware of?

JJ: And how self-aware you are leads you to understand the effect your words and actions have on others. This is especially important for executive assistants who often have to relay messages from their executives to team members and employees across the
organization. If the executive is tone deaf, the assistant must make certain that they finesse the message in order to make it easier for others to digest. I had one job in particular where I became an expert at tempering the tone of my executive’s communications. People would remark to me how much more “mellow” my executive had
become. But I didn’t always have that expertise. When I first started as an assistant, I thought I was supposed to mirror the tone of my
executive. This caused problems until a colleague helped me to
understand that I could convey the message just as easily and
effectively, if I took the sharp edges off. It was an early lesson in EI about building business social skills.

Heather, what are some other elements that can help executive
assistants develop and expand their EQ, in order to increase their effectiveness in the EA role?

HD: Some other building blocks that make up emotional intelligence are:

Self-Awareness: Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, needs, what drives you. Being authentic, aware of the buttons you are pressing in others. Do you perceive yourself as others perceive you?

Motivation: Level of energy, passion, personal drive and enthusiasm for work, and commitment to goals. Being optimistic and positive. The desire for achievement and challenge.

Empathy: The ability to recognize, be sensitive to and consider
others’ feelings, needs and perspectives. Being able to understand, help and work with others and take an active interest in their concerns.

Decisiveness: Willingness to make decisions. The need for control and the level of comfort you have with decision-making responsibility.

Influence: The drive to influence, inspire and persuade others. To be heard and have an impact.

Adaptability: The desire for, and enjoyment of, variety in the workplace, the capacity to keep an open mind and be flexible with different and creative approaches. Being willing to make adjustments as necessary.

Conscientiousness: The need to plan and have structure, be diligent and meet deadlines, the level of comfort with conforming and
following the rules.

Stress Resilience: The capability to relax and deal with the day-to-day pressures of work, the level of comfort with showing and
managing emotions. For example, controlling or hiding your temper when provoked.

JJ: It has to start with self-awareness. The statistic is that the
average person experiences emotions 90% of the time. Even though we are emotional beings, we don’t typically make much effort to
become aware of our emotions.

HD: We have to become aware of our emotions in the moment they are happening and understand the effects those emotions are
having on ourselves and others. When you are experiencing
emotions such as anger or frustration, just slow down for a moment. I know in your book you interviewed the gentleman who teaches Mindfulness at Google. He said to stop and take a breath.

JJ: Yes, it was Chade Meng who talked about that. He also suggested that when you sit down with your executive, or your team, before you dive into the matters at hand, everyone should just close their eyes and take a breath together.

For me, as I was rushing into my meetings with my executive, I
always paused and took a deep breath. That one small action helped to center me and clear my mind so that I could be fully present to what my boss needed, rather than only being focused on getting
answers to my agenda items. It made for productive meetings
because we both accomplished our objectives in those meetings, even if on some days they were brief. When I got back to my desk and had a multitude of things I needed to get done, I simply took a breath and told myself ‘OK where do we need to start?’ That small step of taking a breath brought clarity and calm from where I
proceeded to tackle my projects. Sometimes, when I saw someone who was hard to deal with approaching my desk, I’d do the same thing – just close my eyes for a second and take a breath to help me center myself and be present to what they wanted in that moment, rather than focusing on their past behavior, or my feelings about them.

HD: We have to learn to consciously control our emotions so we can respond appropriately. And there are times when there is no need for a response. Awareness is enough. Self-regulation shows
discipline. It is a sign of maturity. There are some EI habits we are
already good at and others will require practice.

JJ: I was surprised when I first heard of Motivation as being part of EI. I’ve always thought of motivation as an internal drive, something that is propelled by my personal passions and desires, pushing me to high achievement. I thought of EI as being external, influencing my inter-personal actions, how I related and acted with others.

HD: You are spot-on about motivation, Jan, but remember, EI is not only about the social side (our behavior with/towards others), it’s also about our “behavior” with ourselves. Self-Awareness,
Self-Regulation and Motivation are the “Self” side of EI and Empathy and Social Skills are the “Social” side, the inter-personal, people skills side of EI.

To elaborate on your comments about motivation, it is important for assistants to have a regular personal check-in to examine what they need to do to keep motivated. Reminding yourself of your purpose is one way to rekindle your passion. What are you passionate about at work? Is it appreciation, more involvement, power, authority,
intellectual stimulation, the culture and working environment,
promotion prospects? Whatever it is that keeps you motivated and excited, find ways to do more of it. One daily exercise my clients find useful for motivation is to list “3 good things that happened to me today.”

JJ: I hope assistants will take note of this, Heather, because there are assistants who wait for their executive to motivate them. They
expect their executive to provide exciting projects for them to work on, or find ways to keep them happy and challenged. When
assistants tell me they need more challenge in the job, my response often is that they should look for ways to challenge themselves. What can I do to keep interested and motivated? What’s not getting done that I can do? What initiative can I take on a project that doesn’t rely on my boss for direction or approval? What task will help excite me to stretch my ability and thinking, so when it’s done, I can truly appreciate myself and the effort I made?

Can you share an example of how you have worked with EAs on EI?

HD: Sure. A good example is the work I’ve been doing with an
executive assistant in a global pharmaceutical organization who is remotely managing other EAs in her company’s European offices. When we started working together, Elizabeth’s Empathy was an 8 (out of 10). She needed to bring that down as she was spending too much time on not offending her team and giving them feedback in a sensitive way. This linked in with her Stress Resilience that was only 2. Through awareness and coaching, Elizabeth is now a 7 on Stress Resilience, a 5 on Empathy and a 7 on Decisiveness.

JJ: What I like about the work you are doing is how EAs can learn to increase their EI, not only in developing their talent for management and leadership within their role, but also to make them more
effective in growing that ability to take on additional opportunities.

HD: In my 30 years of experience working with EAs all over the world, I’ve seen a lot of under-utilized EA potential. My work with emotional intelligence can give assistants a framework to develop their skills, their awareness and fine-tune their communication ability.

*Further reading for developing potent “Intangible” skills for becoming a multi-faceted, exceptional executive assistant.

Are Executive Assistants Servant-Leaders?

Exemplary Followership: How Smart Assistants Get Ahead


No alt text provided for this image

About Heather Dallas: A former executive assistant, Heather Dallas’ last EA role was at Deloitte UK. In 1990 she was asked to move into a new training role to introduce inter-personal skills training for the 1500 support staff at Deloitte UK, as well as many of the Deloitte offices globally. Heather left Deloitte in 2000 to set-up her own training and coaching business. After 19 years, Heather is proud to say she is still running programs for Deloitte.

Heather offers a range of programs for executive assistants including Presentation Skills, Team workshops, Personality Profiling, Project Management, Management Skills, The Mini-MBA for Executive Assistants and Emotional Intelligence, designed for in-house programs and public courses, in the UK and internationally. Jan Jones Worldwide has proudly presented Heather’s training skills for events in numerous international training locations, including The Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. Heather has been passionate about developing the role of the executive assistant for nearly 30 years and has an outstanding record with satisfied clients.

To book Heather Dallas for your company in-house, association, or public training events, contact www.theceossecretweapon.comWatch for announcements of Heather’s upcoming international training dates.


About Jan Jones: Jan Jones spent 20 years as a distinguished international executive assistant to successful business people around the world. She is a passionate advocate for the executive assistant profession, mentoring assistants and guiding executives through her writing, speaking and consulting. She is the author of The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness” which debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management category. The book has received widespread acclaim from executives and assistants worldwide. www.theceossecretweapon.com

No alt text provided for this image

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series!

Author: Jan Jones

©Copyright Jan Jones, 2015 “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ new book and visit her website: The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness


We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest news and updates from
FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

 

Is Saying “No” Smart Business Practice for Executive Assistants?

FlyPrivate: Is saying “no” smart business practice for executive
assistants?
Typically executive assistants do what their boss asks, but sometimes a situation arises where the assistant feels they can’t oblige because they are being asked to meet unrealistic deadlines, or the tasks are not clearly defined.  Some assistants have said that they say “no” to their boss, others say they may be inclined to “push back” on certain
requests that they consider unreasonable.  In these situations how would you advise assistants to respond to such requests?

Jan Jones: Being an executive assistant requires a lot of flexibility. Assistants are constantly being asked to shift priorities, or meet deadlines that crop up unexpectedly.  These things are part and
parcel of the assistant’s job.  If your boss is asking you to perform a task that relates to your job, or is part of your job description, then saying “no” or pushing back would not be smart business practice, or the first option to consider without an extremely valid reason for doing so.

I understand that Millennials want more autonomy and control over work conditions, but saying “no” or pushing back on legitimate work requests is not somewhere you should make it a habit of expressing your individuality, because you could end up losing your job if you are perceived as uncooperative or insubordinate.

Recently, it has become popular for business coaches to advise EAs that they should say no to their executives if they feel their workload is at capacity. What these coaches don’t understand about the EA role is that the majority of the EA’s workload stems from them being the assistant to their executive. Some assistants have additional
duties not directly tied to their executive, such as office
management or HR duties, but generally these accountabilities don’t take precedence over the EA’s availability for their executive’s
requirements. It is not usually at the EA’s discretion whether they will perform a task if their executive requests it. So it is risky for coaches to advise assistants to say things like “I’m not taking on new projects at the moment”, or “let me check my schedule and get back to you” when their executive asks them to do something. This
misdirection by coaches is causing confusion for many assistants, particularly those who are less experienced, or who don’t have a good rapport with their boss. They are conflicted about whether or not they should be taking direction from their executive (per their job description and common sense), or whether they should refuse to accept additional tasks because this is the latest buzz being spread in the EA world.

Let’s take a closer look at some examples where assistants might consider “pushing back”, and explore options that are more
productive than pushing back, or saying no.

Unreasonable Deadlines

Let’s say you’ve been given a huge amount of work that has to be completed by a specific deadline.  If you are unable or unsure of how to prioritize the work, ask your executive for guidance.  Explain that it is going to take a certain amount of time to do the tasks and you need to know which of the tasks is absolutely vital to get done to meet the deadline.

If you have an unreasonable executive who insists that all of it has to get done immediately and has equal priority, then tell the executive you are going to use your best judgment to determine which of the tasks has the highest priority. Quickly draft up the order of priority and ask your executive for input.  If you can’t get input, just get
started and do your best.  If they are not satisfied with the decisions you made, ask them how they would have prioritized so you will know in future and politely say that investing a little bit of time to guide you would have been helpful in getting the job done to their satisfaction.

EAs often ask me how to prioritize work when supporting several executives.  To do this effectively, at the outset you must establish a procedure for how you are going to prioritize everyone’s work.
Typically, the executive who is more senior gets a higher priority. If they are part of a team, likely they would know which project and which team member’s task should get priority in order to complete a project by deadline. If each one is saying their work is high priority, and if they are being unreasonable, if you are unable to determine by yourself which task should get the highest priority, then go to their boss and ask for guidance.  Politely make it clear you need help in
order to do the most effective job possible.  If speaking with their boss is not an option, then go to the executive who is typically the most reasonable of the bunch and ask for help.  Explain that you want to make everyone happy, but you simply can’t do all the tasks at the same time, so what do they suggest?

If no one is cooperating, respectfully ask them to work it out among themselves and get back to you as quickly as possible so you can move forward on the right track. That would be the most “push back” from an assistant that I would advise.

In the meantime, get started according to your understanding of which is the most important project.  Worst case, you will have to stop working on the task you selected as being important, and have to start something else.  But assistants are used to interruptions and switching quickly from one priority to another. Always behave
professionally, even if you want to wring their necks.

When things have calmed down, have another discussion with that team and reiterate that you want to do the best for them, but you must have their cooperation in sorting out how work is to be prioritized.

These are some reasons why it is important for the assistant to
understand the business they are in.  Having an understanding of the workings of the business lets the assistant make better judgments about which tasks are a priority.  When you understand the reason for why you are being asked to do something, there is less inclination to “push back” or say “no”, because you see the bigger picture of why something is necessary and needs to get done.  Then you pitch in enthusiastically.

When your executives see you taking an interest in knowing the business, they will start working collaboratively with you, rather than simply giving you instructions and asking you to carry them out. You may soon find that the unreasonable requests are diminishing, and your executives start to treat you with a new level of respect.

Last-Minute Emergencies

There are times when executives haven’t planned sufficiently and are asking you to do things at the last minute, which may involve staying late, or changing your personal plans.  If there is a day when you absolutely have to leave by a certain time, be proactive and give your team plenty of notice that you have to leave and will not be able to take on any last-minute jobs. Then there’s no question of pushing back because you’ve told them in plenty of time you will not be
available.  If your executive has a habit of giving you things at the last minute, discuss with them that you can’t always accommodate last-minute requests.  Ask what you can do to help the executive plan their day. Sometimes last minute requests are completely
unavoidable because things do crop up unexpectedly. Do your best to oblige without being resentful. You are better off with a
reputation for being cooperative than for pushing back or saying no.

Not Part of Your Job Description

So what? If you are being asked to do things that are not part of your job description, consider the nature of the request and who is
asking.  Always consider the bigger picture.  Even if it’s not in your job description, it could lead to something bigger and better for you.  Maybe it gives you a chance to work on a project that expands your sphere of influence.  It could give others in the company exposure to you.  Let them see you at your best and spread the word about how outstanding your work is and how cooperative you are.  How would that hurt you?

At one job I had, once in a while our CEO’s housekeeper was away and he’d bring his dog to work.  A few times during the day I would take the dog out for a quick walk.  Certainly not something in my job description, but as assistant to the CEO I knew the value of his time so I was happy to do that for him and he was grateful that he didn’t have to stop what he was doing to take the dog out. If you can be generous, be generous.  It makes everyone feel good and people
remember you for it.

Instead of being quick to “push back” or say “no”, find a way to get the job done even if it requires some sacrifice on your part. I’m not saying make yourself a martyr, but if you can accommodate
requests, do so.

Take a lesson from comedian, Tina Fey who said: “Say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” Why? “Because the fun is always on the other side of the ‘yes’.” Not just in your job, but in your life, stop
pushing back and start saying “yes”.  For EAs who are reading this, some day I’d love to hear your success stories about the miraculous journey on which that simple word “yes” has taken you.

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series!

Author: Jan Jones

©Copyright Jan Jones, 2015 “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ new book and visit her website: The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones

_________________________________________________________________________

We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest news and updates from
FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

 

Exemplary Followership: How Smart Assistants Can Get Ahead – Part 2

FlyPrivateIn Part 1 of this topic on Servant Leadership and Followership, you spoke about the relevance of Servant Leadership for executive assistants and how executive assistants can take on a Servant Leadership role.  We are excited to hear about a lesser-known concept called Followership, which you consider more relevant for the executive assistant role. Can you please shed some light on this interesting topic?

Jan Jones: My previous article spoke about the idea of the Servant-Leader, a concept created by Robert Greenleaf, which is now a widely accepted business practice.

The concept of Followership developed about 30 years ago when Robert Kelley concluded logically that discussions about Leadership must also include discussions about Followership, because leaders don’t exist in a vacuum without followers. I’ll lay out Kelley’s five basic styles of Followership, but the one that interests me the most, is the concept of the Star Follower – self-managed employees who think for themselves and whose hearts are in their work. Many executive assistants will identify and aspire to this style of Followership.

“Followership” got the same initial negative reaction as the idea of “servant” leadership, but there was enough substance to keep people who weren’t seeking out a leadership role, happy.  Assistants, in particular, will agree that “Making the assist, is just as important as making the score”. In sports, an assist is the person who passes the ball to a teammate, helping that teammate to score. This is a primary element in the role of the assistant. Doing everything they can to make it possible for their executive to “score” – to hit their targets, their objectives, their goals.

While Kelley’s Five Basic Styles of Followership apply to all employees, assistants will find it helpful in understanding themselves, their fellow assistants and work colleagues. It is not meant to be a personality test and I am not encouraging you to label people. This is a tool, a guide to help get perspective on ourselves and the people we work with. These are work styles we all deal with every day. Which one are you? How can you use these styles to assess yourself and look for ways to enhance your performance? In whichever description you see yourself, remember it’s not a verdict. It’s simply an indicator that can give you perspective and help you make the leap into more effective, next-level practices.

The Sheep: Passive people who look to the leader to think and to motivate them.

When applied to assistants, I don’t see this as a negative if assistants are completely new to the role and must look to the leader to think and direct them. Without experience in the job, they need to be shown the ropes. Paying attention to what is asked of them, they can develop their anticipation ability. The skills they learn in this initial stage will help to create the foundation on which to build a successful EA career. This is a time of learning, observing, absorbing. It should not be taken lightly. Many of the skills I learned in my very first job are skills I developed and built on over my career. They consistently set me apart from other assistants who were not trained as effectively.

The Yes-Person: Positive people who support their leader, but look to the leader for thinking, direction and vision. When a task is done, they ask the leader “what do you want me to do next?” Yes-people say “I’m the doer. The boss is paid to think, and I do the work”.

The Yes-Person has a good attitude and a willing heart, but they have not yet learned to think independently and require guidance. This is acceptable for less-experienced assistants who are gradually honing their craft. Many assistants in this phase see themselves as helpers who faithfully and willingly carry out their executive’s wishes. Ideally, this is the time to also start incrementally developing initiative, the ability to reason, and taking an interest in the business, looking for ways to gradually branch out into independent thinking and acting.

If an assistant who has been around for a while is a Yes-Person, productivity can suffer. They are capable people who do their tasks well, but they often stop short when it comes to anticipation and resourcefulness, two characteristics that are vital for an assistant to be fully effective in the role. I encounter many assistants who fit this category. Comfortable where they are, they’ve gotten by and see no need to change, particularly if they’ve been with their executive a long time. One assistant told me she needed to “hang on just a bit longer” before her retirement date. But what happens to these assistants when their executive moves on? If you are a Yes-Person who has been in the same job a while, use your valuable job knowledge to step out of self-imposed limitations and find ways to increase your value through participating in your job more. You are a solid producer. Now maybe it’s time to give innovation a shot. Offer suggestions, volunteer for projects, initiate employee programs. You will enjoy a new enthusiasm for your job and your life.

The Pragmatics: Pragmatics are fence sitters, looking to see which way things are headed before they get on board. They do what they must to survive and are invested in maintaining the status quo.

Pragmatics know their job, but are known to be mediocre with execution. Many are invested in doing the minimum they can get away with. Most of us have come across such co-workers and felt a sense of frustration having to pick up the slack for them. Pragmatics are lucky if they fall into a job that allows them to have their wait-and-see attitude. My concern is the implication this has on the image of assistants in general, portraying them as lacking gumption and get-up-and-go, resulting in being paid the minimum for doing the minimum. In this time of explosive business and technological growth, trying to maintain the status quo is a fool’s errand. Pragmatic assistants, please come down off the fence and challenge yourself a little. Start conquering inertia by making small adjustments. Offer to help your colleagues. Take on an additional task or two. Communicate more and start getting comfortable with uncertainty to wake up your senses and lead you to new opportunities.

The Alienated: They think for themselves, but they are disgruntled and cynical. They see themselves as mavericks, the only ones with courage to stand up to the boss. Tending to have a chip on their shoulder, they are viewed as rebels without a cause.

Intelligent, capable and sometimes a cut above the rest, I regret that many assistants are buying into the idea that rebellious, sullen behavior proves they are important thinkers, individualists and generally superior to their EA colleagues, whom they view as too status quo, compliant and boring. Alienated assistants want to shake things up. They feel angry that their talents are not being recognized and they frequently feel exploited. I find it ironic that people who need star billing and recognition end up in the executive assistant profession, which requires one to be highly service oriented and committed to excellence, whilst remaining in the background.

Despite their feelings of alienation, many Alienated assistants are usually visible and appreciated for their talents, but they shoot themselves in the foot by being churlish and confrontational. I’ve worked with assistants who behaved this way and were hostile towards me because I was getting the recognition they craved. What was the difference? Like them, I was a strong personality, unafraid to speak truth to power, willing to take charge, but unlike them I brought fresh energy and my attitude was positive. My professionalism, poise and polish were always on display. I was respected because I showed respect and upheld the dignity of my executive, the office of my executive and the organization. I earned the recognition I received. I understood that I was there to be of service and if I didn’t want to fulfill that fundamental requirement of the role of the EA, then I needed to find another profession.  I implore Alienated assistants to let the spotlight be on your performance and not your attitude. Recognition and respect will follow.

The Star Followers: Star followers are sometimes viewed as “leaders in disguise”. They think for themselves, are active, and have positive energy. If they agree with the leader, they give full support. If they disagree, they offer constructive alternatives that will help the leader and the organization. Star Followers are often referred to by their executives as “my right-hand person”.

As described by Kelley, Star Performers are self-starters who can work without close supervision. They are independent problem solvers, who show initiative and contribute well. Star Performers are critical thinkers, highly participative, and habitually exercise superior judgment. Star Performers build their competence and focus their efforts for maximum effect. They take on extra work gladly, but first they focus on superior execution with their core responsibilities. They manage themselves well, they are committed to the organization and its purpose, always striving to collaborate, build relationships and be the best. Like exceptional assistants, they tackle overlooked problems that need addressing and present the issue along with a solution.

Assistants, the Star Follower is the style that should interest you the most. Many of you are on the way, or already there. These traits will distinguish you from the millions of assistants in the profession and make you an invaluable addition to any executive suite. This is the caliber of assistant I wrote about in “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”.

What Style Do Executives Prefer? When Robert Kelley asked executives if they could have a mix of the 5 Followership styles in their organization, which would they choose, a large percentage said they would like Yes-People. Why? 1) Yes-People are “doers”. They’ll do the grunt work. 2) Yes-People have limited aspirations and won’t pressure the leader for promotions, or quit for better jobs.

Other executives wanted a mix: Start with a handful of Alienated because they keep the leader honest. Add a small group of Star Performers who would lead the charge, but avoid having too many Stars because they can get demanding and they think for themselves too much. Then split the remaining majority with Pragmatics who serve as a status quo base, and Yes-People who will get the job done.

Very few executives wanted only Star Performers on their teams because they worried they could not keep them sufficiently challenged, or satisfied with their role. They believe Star Performers will get bored and seek greener pastures, leading to high turnover. I see this as a misunderstanding by executives because Star Performers, by their very nature, find ways to keep themselves challenged and motivated at work.

So where does this leave administrative and executive assistants? Which category does your executive fit into? Do they want a star performer, or someone who will maintain the status quo and get the job done? Would you have the courage and have you built the relationship sufficiently to ask them?

Despite Robert Kelley’s research with executives, I have yet to meet an executive who was happy with their assistant simply doing as they are told. A Yes-Person. They put up with it because it takes too much effort to make a change, it’s uncomfortable to have an honest conversation, or too difficult to push the assistant to step up their performance. They all tell me they want their assistant to show more initiative and interest in the business, in order to take some of the burden off the executive.

Whichever of the preceding styles apply to you, keep striving for excellence. If you identify as a Sheep, look for ways to stand on your own two feet and build your confidence. If you identify as a Yes-Person, try to take yourself beyond relying on your executive for guidance and direction. You have what it takes so start using your talent. If you are a Pragmatic, get off the fence and coax a little disruption into your life. If your style is Alienated, life can be lonely. Try trusting life and remember, the world is not conspiring against you. If you are a Star Follower, congratulations! Don’t get complacent. Keep adding higher value. Become a star leader and mentor for colleagues who might need a sprinkling of your expertise and energy. Cut a little slack to those who are not as competent as you. It’s something I wish I had learned earlier in my career, because it serves to humanize you and make you more relatable.

Assistants, take pride in your role as assistant to your executive or team. The best leaders are also the best followers. Know when to wear which hat and you will smoothly transition when you are called upon to play a leadership role. You are a vital component in the world of business and enterprise. Pick up your mantle and wear it with honor.

©Copyright Jan Jones 2019

Author: Jan Jones

For the past three years, FlyPrivate has been a proud partner and associate of Jan Jones. Jan brings valuable, actionable information to EAs across the globe. We hope you enjoy her blogs as much as we do!

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series: Part 1-11!

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and
executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed
international executive assistant to well-known business people,
including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless,
practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ new book and visit her website: The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones


We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ for the latest news and updates from FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.

Are Executive Assistants Servant-Leaders? Part 1

FlyPrivateRecently we’ve heard executive assistants mentioning
Servant-Leader without being sure what it is, or if it has any relevance to executive assistants. We know this is not some new buzzword because you wrote about it in your book. Can you say something about how the Servant-Leader concept is relevant to the EA role?

Jan Jones: Yes, I’ll be happy to discuss that here and perhaps we can do a Part 2 to this discussion where we can explore what I believe is even more relevant for executive assistants and that is the concept of Exemplary Followership, which in a few words is self-managed “followers” who think for themselves and whose hearts are in their work.

Servant-Leader and Servant Leadership are not new concepts. Robert Greenleaf coined the terms in an essay he wrote in 1970. He got the inspiration from reading Herman Hesse’s book, “Journey to the East”. Greenleaf spent forty years at AT&T in management
research, development and education. After that he was an
influential consultant.

In my 2015 book “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”, I told the story of Leo the servant in Hesse’s book. Hesse wrote “In addition to his menial chores, Leo sustained the group (of travelers) with his spirit.” When Leo left the group, they fell into disarray and the journey was
abandoned because they could not make it without Leo.

I said this reminded me of the role an executive assistant plays in an organization. They perform tasks that are sometimes perceived as menial, yet “They hold together and sustain the multiple activities and personalities that keep an enterprise going.”

I was introduced to Greenleaf by management guru Dr. Ken
Blanchard who was a good friend of my boss at the time, Tony
Robbins. When I was writing my book, Dr. Blanchard invited me to his home and spent a full day with me, giving me advice and
direction. This showed me first hand who servant-leaders are. They live true to their principles. In my book I’m sure you noticed Dr.
Blanchard’s relationship with his wonderful assistant, Dana Kyle, whom he likened to a “soul mate”. Reading his comments you
experience the servant-leader in action. They are leaders who listen closely to their teams, care about them on a personal level, care about their development and value their contributions.

Appreciation for the servant leadership concept didn’t come easily to a rugged individualist like me. I struggled with the term “servant-leader” because the words usually mean the opposite of each other. People don’t want to be perceived as servants, particularly
assistants whose role through the years has sometimes been spoken of in derogatory terms, analogous to servant. This is probably why a personality in the EA profession recently referred to the assistant role of earlier generations as being “tea and typing”. A massive
blunder on her part, but if you’ve never been an assistant, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing the stereotype. When I read about Leo in Herman Hesse’s book, I suddenly became clear about what a servant-leader is, and how true executive assistants have been
examples of the concept for generations.

In my book, Simon Sinek, author of “Start with Why”, said that a huge mistake executives make is “Treating their assistant as a
subordinate. What they don’t recognize is if you look after the
person and look after their growth as a human being, they will want to do everything in their power to keep you healthy, happy and productive.”

Does Simon’s description sound a lot like what an executive
assistant does for their executive and their team? It’s about having the heart of someone who wants to serve and be of service. That’s how secretaries of previous generations expressed the essence of the role. They were intensely loyal to the executive they served. Not that they didn’t understand that they served the larger organization as well, but their loyalty was first and foremost to their direct
executive. They looked out for them and kept them protected. Some secretaries smothered their executives. Others took their
protection too far by keeping tight control on access to their
executive. This was done because the secretary saw themselves as the protector of their executive’s time. With that in mind, there was little the secretary would not do in service of their executive.

While they had the best intentions, that thinking was exclusionary, not inclusionary, which is contrary to the idea of servant leadership. But realize that in previous generations business style was much more formal than it is now, particularly in the executive suite. Many executives wanted an assistant who projected a formidable persona to create the perception of exclusivity around the executive. I was a secretary in those days and if you wanted to be executive secretary to a high level executive, you were expected to bring a certain
authoritative demeanor to the role.

It is important for the current generation of assistants to
understand the basic concepts of servant leadership because its
influence is widespread now, and many companies such as SAS,
Marriott, Nordstrom, Men’s Warehouse have instituted servant leadership practices and offer servant-leader training. With the growing influence of servant leadership, EAs may find themselves working for an executive who is committed to being a servant-leader. It can be a radically different experience and one that takes getting used to because you are asked to step up and be mindful of your better nature at all times. Embodying what it truly means to be a servant-leader is not easy, and certainly cannot be trivialized as the latest buzzword. Servant leadership doesn’t happen overnight. It is a long-term transformation for people and organizations.

Greenleaf wrote: “The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then
conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead… The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people
develop and perform as highly as possible.”

I’ve abridged that paragraph from Greenleaf for the purpose of this interview. It is lengthy and the most quoted of his entire essay.
Debating whether or not we should put others’ needs ahead of our own is a discussion for another time. To me, it simply points us to constantly remember to be decent human beings who are
considerate of each other, finding ways to work and support each other so we can all live fulfilled lives. Servant leadership espouses lofty goals. From my perspective, the server is as valuable as the
person being served. Servant leadership is not a one-way street. It is not about subjugating yourself. It is about claiming yourself, living to your highest purpose while supporting others to do the same.

Here are some characteristics of Servant Leadership as explained by the former CEO of the Greenleaf organization, Larry Spears. I’ve added my take on the relevance for EAs.

Listening: Listening is vital to the growth of a servant-leader. Listen intently and receptively to others. It means getting in touch with your own inner voice to understand what it is communicating to you. Listening and reflecting are essential to the role of the servant-leader, and a crucial characteristic for an executive assistant. Former Popeyes’ CEO Cheryl Bachelder says “Listening well is the path to serving well.”

Healing: The potential for healing one’s self and others is a powerful force for transformation. Assistants routinely come across people who need help and encouragement. Find ways to be of service,
without neglecting your core responsibilities, or becoming
overwhelmed by other people’s issues. I knew an EA who used to volunteer for a suicide hotline. She had to stop because she became too depressed and it was seriously impacting her job as assistant to a senior VP. This is about having empathy, not taking on someone else’s problems.

Awareness: Particularly self-awareness. Many executives lack
self-awareness (about their values and how others perceive them). Pay attention to your impact on people and how you conduct
yourself. You represent your executive and you represent yourself. Make sure you always put your best foot forward, and your radar is on at all times.

Persuasion: Using persuasion rather than authority. Assistants should be used to this since most of them don’t have any direct or positional authority, yet they manage to get things done through
collaboration, resourcefulness and treating others respectfully.

Foresight: Understanding the lessons of the past to look ahead and avoid problems in the future. Assistants must develop their ability to anticipate. It’s the biggest complaint I hear from executives. Being prepared gives you a big advantage in supporting your executive and independently spearheading projects. Your position in the executive suite gives you a bird’s-eye view advantage, so use that data
strategically to plan your course of action.

How will you apply these characteristics to your role as executive assistant? Remember servant leadership is for people at all levels, not just for people with a “C” in their title (CEO, CFO). As a servant-leader, the assistant must understand their stewardship to their
executive and to the organization of which they are a part. Servant leadership is not asking you to be submissive. You are being
encouraged to build and be a part of something. Something you care about. Tune into the needs of your executive so they feel looked
after and nurtured by you. Whether it is business needs or basic
human needs like planning down time in their schedule, or having a sandwich ready to nourish them before they race off to yet another meeting. What can you do to give them respite from the pressures of the business day – things that say “I’m here to support you.”

“Support” is the operative word. The role of the assistant is to
support and assist. As much as we speak about “partnerships” and “relationships”, it must be remembered that the executive is hiring the assistant to provide the support the executive needs in carrying out the company’s mandate. All efforts must be in service of this
requirement. This is not limiting the assistant. It is expanding the
assistant. There are many directions in which a spirited, resourceful assistant can take the role if they are looking out for the best
interests of their executives and the organization. There is much that can be done by an assistant with bold vision and a sense of
purpose who wants to take the lead. It is only limiting if “what’s best for me” is your predominant focus.

Ideally, the executive has already adopted the role of servant-leader so the executive and assistant are in service and support of each
other. I’ve had the privilege of having such a boss and I can tell you, you will gladly work your heart out for this person, because you know they have your back as much as you have theirs. You realize they truly see you as a human being, and not just a high achieving, production machine whose mettle they will test to the point of breaking. When this happens, the executive and the assistant are successfully partnered to deliver superior performance. They are aligned and fully engaged, bringing their best to work every day in the true spirit of servant leadership.

Please tune in next time for our discussion on Exemplary
Followership and its relevance for executive assistants.

Author: Jan Jones

For the past three years, FlyPrivate has been a proud partner and associate of Jan Jones. Jan brings valuable, actionable information to EAs across the globe. We hope you enjoy her blogs as much as we do!

Want more from Jan Jones? Check out her Q & A Series: Part 1-11!

Jan Jones is the author of “The CEO’s Secret Weapon How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness”. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Office Management Category. It has received widespread acclaim from executives and
executive assistants worldwide. Jan spent 20 years as an esteemed
international executive assistant to well-known business people,
including personal development icon and author Tony Robbins. Jan is passionate about the executive assistant role and continues to champion the profession through speaking, mentoring and offering timeless,
practical advice that is relevant to the day-to-day role of the executive assistant.

©Copyright Jan Jones, 2015 “The CEO’s Secret Weapon”

Jan Jones Worldwide

Visit Amazon to purchase Jan Jones’ new book and visit her website: The CEO’s Secret Weapon.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness

Jan Jones


We’d love to hear from you! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ for the latest news and updates from FlyPrivate.

Website: www.flyprivate.com
Email: fly@flyprivate.com
Phone: 1-800-641-JETS (5387)

All flights arranged by Private Business Jets, LLC DBA FlyPrivate are operated by Part 135 Certified Air Carriers. FlyPrivate will act as your agent for the purpose of obtaining charter service.