Lucia Landini explores the leadership and social influence skills that Assistants use in their role
Assistants are leaders and, like any leader, must improve and develop many skills.
1. Reliability and Trustworthiness
Assistants need to be reliable and trustworthy – for our executive(s), for our colleagues and for the organization. Our personal values and traits are our resources; we use them every day.
2. Organization and Management Skills
Assistants organize complex projects so that the work of each colleague is integrated into an overall result. It is important that we are skilled at time management, at prioritizing different tasks and that we know how to respect other people’s needs and opinions, even in difficult times and during work related conflicts.
3. Social and Interpersonal Skills
Assistants must identify the social and interpersonal needs of the group, communicate at different levels, try to understand and feel the general atmosphere that lies beneath the surface and that is shared only in small groups. In this role, we need to put others before ourselves and improve our active listening skills.
The above are all quite complicated and connected skills, yet our most important skill and responsibility is our capacity to influence others without formal authority, by setting an example, by guiding and encouraging the participation of colleagues with our support and experience. In fact, the main skill Assistants need to develop is based on nurturing a sense of interdependence and mutual support with colleagues at every level in the organization. Especially in this aspect, leadership for assistants is part of a social influence process.
Assistants as leaders guide and inspire in many ways and on different levels, inside and outside the organization they work for.
At the Individual Level
At this level, we motivate, support and coach our colleagues and share best practices. We develop a sense of our colleagues’ strengths and help them improve their positive qualities. We create connections to empower everybody’s life. We listen and find a way to better handle difficult situations, ranging from a small argument to a technical issue that temporarily stops the activity of a colleague.
Every day we influence our colleagues with our behavior and attitudes; we set examples just by solving issues without complaint or protest, by being active and positive. We build true personal relationships. We are willing to take care of other people and help them feel better and live a better day in the office. Assistants also develop empathy, understanding and being aware of the feelings, thoughts, and experience of others who work with us, especially when those colleagues are not openly sharing their emotions.
At the Group Level
At this level, we create team spirit and cohesion, and try to resolve conflicts. We dare to speak honestly whilst avoiding getting involved in gossip. Assistants must set an example by limiting the influence of negative feelings and emotions and trying to reduce their strength.
At the Company Level
At this level, we build culture and create change and innovation. We are a symbol of the organization, representing the people who work there, even when we are not at work. We have sight of future plans and start procedures to improve the organization’s mission whilst being ready to face obstacles and criticism.
The Leader Assistant
The Leader Assistant is a person who gives off positive vibes and generates good feelings. We create a healthy environment in the office and with external guests; we encourage others to do the same and to recognize the value of kindness.
Assistants also influence the entire world community of Assistants, by sharing our expertise. We understand the role networks play in developing personal strengths, innovation and leadership. We help younger colleagues who want to improve, to find the most suitable method for them, including training and mentoring. Assistants are a symbol for the next generation.
To be able to perform all these complex tasks, we need to be authentic to ourselves and to our values, allowing our voices to be heard without being afraid to share our feelings in the difficult moments we experience in our daily life at work.
It is all about giving and sharing: when we believe in our strengths, we allow others to shine their light.
I can’t think of a more powerful use of leadership and social influence!