More and more PAs and Executive Assistants are being invited to take the role of Manager in some way.

However, being a Manager requires you to be a “Leader” because your team are looking to you to be their guide. What qualities as a PA do you need to step into to be a leader? Leaders need high levels of self esteem, a strong sense of self worth to be resilient in the face of criticism and to hold out for what they believe is right. How we think about ourselves and how we react to the influences all around us determines our level of self esteem. This goes hand in hand with our self belief (based on our knowledge, skills, and the depth and breadth of our experience) and awareness of our principles, values and needs. If our self belief or self esteem is low this will adversely affect our self-awareness levels.

PAs who have a high level of self esteem are valued and respected. They look after themselves (mind, body and spirit) – they are self developing, well exercised, well nourished and well nurtured. They are positive, energetic and optimistic people who know that “life is what our thoughts make it”. They don’t allow external circumstances to influence how they feel about themselves or their situation, because they know that their thoughts and how they react determines how they actually feel. The higher your personal level of self esteem as a leader, the more you will be able to do to increase the levels of self esteem and motivation in your staff.

Self awareness

Knowing your own strengths and limitations, and understanding your own emotions and the impact of your behaviour on others in different situations, is extremely important if you want to be a truly effective leader. This is because increasingly leaders have to work across the business and as part of diverse networks, and they need to be aware of and sensitive to the impact they have on others who may have very different priorities.

A high level of self awareness will ensure that behaviour can be looked at in context, and recognised as a strength in certain situations as well as a weakness or barrier to you achieving what you want in others; it will also help you in difficult times, as it will allow you to reflect on and learn from your mistakes. In addition, being aware of your personal limitations will enable you to more effectively manage yourself, or allow you to ensure that you have sufficient people with the right skills and strengths in your team (to take the lead in certain situations if necessary).

These thoughts are good as far as they go, but they’re not specific or detailed enough to drive you into action. You need to really experience the pain of your present situation, of staying stuck, and the pleasure (or gain) in your new situation. You need to imagine and think not of your goals but from them – see yourself being and doing the things you want. Your vision needs to be so shiny, big and attractive that it pulls you forward like a magnet – it drives you to create the plans and take the actions necessary to move you in the right direction. So… even a big vision is not enough – but if you put your energy into doing the mental work it’s a huge first step to taking the actions that will make your vision a reality!

Circumstances are not negative or positive, they are neutral. It is our thinking, our mental state and our perspective that makes a circumstance positive or negative.

This can be one of the most difficult lessons for us to accept and understand, as we often blame our circumstances for the position we’re in, for the way we feel, or for doing or not doing something. The next time you catch yourself blaming your circumstances for something, try to remember this quote by James Allen in Byways of Blessedness: “Your difficulty is not contained, primarily, in the situation which gave rise to it, but in the mental state with which you regard that situation and which you bring to bear upon it.

Carmen MacDougall came from a corporate background as a PA and Office Manager before establishing her VA business over 12 years ago after redundancy. She since established herself as one of the leading trainers on setting up and running a successful ... (Read More)

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