The modern-day assistant has the perfect opportunity to be an effective and inspirational influencer says Arini Vlotman

Would you consider yourself a good communicator, able to make quick decisions and someone that your team can rely on? Most assistants would answer yes, as these are critical skills needed in an Executive Assistant position.

Would it surprise you to find out that the qualities described in good leaders are exceptional communication skills, effective decision-making abilities and credibility? Why then, do most assistants consider their function as a ‘behind the scenes’ role?

A leader is one who has the strength and capability to inspire people to act by providing a good example, willingness to do the work side by side with their team and courage to stand fast in any situation. Notice that title and personality traits have nothing to do with the characteristics displayed by an effective leader; therefore, being a manager does not automatically enable you to lead those around you.

So, why should you be moved to become a leader in your organization? The most obvious answers are that you will improve your position in your company, your ratings will go up and with it, increases and bonuses. You will move from being an Effective Assistant to an Extraordinary Assistant.

You will also achieve the satisfaction of knowing that you motivate those around you. You can drive people, contribute to the bottom line and know that you are valued within your role.

With that in mind, here are some tips on how to become a leader in your workplace:

Be Authentic

No matter what actions you take or what you say, if you are not passionate and committed to helping those around you, your authenticity and credibility will be questioned. You must truly want to lead and inspire the people that you work with. As human beings, we gravitate to those who prove to be trustworthy and are immediately suspicious of anyone perceived to be ‘fake’. Do not jeopardize your position by pretending to be something that you are not.

Excel in your role

When you excel in your job, you automatically set yourself apart to your boss and your organization. By constantly challenging yourself, learning new things, and being an asset to your company, your efforts in other areas of the business will be taken seriously. You will also have the satisfaction of knowing that you are good at what you do.

Use your support role to your advantage

You may often find yourself in the position to be a sounding board, as people tend to turn to you because you are in a supporting role. Use this opportunity to build a solid relationship with the people that you work with by listening to what they have to say. Leaders listen; this proves that you are genuinely interested in the people and not just the organization.

Act with intent

Every email, chat at the coffee station, or conversation at a networking event provides you with information on the people that you work with. Members of your organization will see you as a caring leader if you show interest in their lives and wellbeing. If a colleague is having a particularly difficult time in their private life, you are in the position to offer additional support. If someone is celebrating a milestone, you can celebrate with him or her. These small acts are something you already undertake, but now you are acting with intent.

Use your words wisely

Use positive, assertive and confident language when having conversations. Your belief in your abilities will be reflected in your actions and thus inspire people to take you seriously. The easiest way to do this is to be bold when talking to those around you, irrespective of seniority. You can make positive impacts with every action and thought.

Continuous Learning

It is said that leaders are made, not born. You can enhance your leadership skills by constantly learning, challenging and growing yourself. Putting all that you have learnt into practice and combining this with your already accumulated experience will ensure your path to becoming a successful leader is a solid one.

The modern-day assistant has the perfect opportunity to be an effective and inspirational influencer in an organization; it is up to you to learn how to move into that space. True leaders shine, they just need the opportunity and inspiration to act.

Arini Vlotman is an EQ and Personal Development Trainer, Life Coach, Author and Public Speaker. Having worked as an Executive Assistant for over 10 years, she is passionate about upskilling administrators using both her experience and expertise in L&D ... (Read More)

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