It’s never too early or too late to develop your leadership skills says Brandi Britton
Whether you’re a newly hired receptionist or senior executive assistant to the CEO, it’s never too early or late to develop your leadership skills. Here are nine changes you can make to be seen as a mover and shaker in your organization:
1. Think like an executive
Are there certain company leaders you admire and respect? These people are the ones to emulate. Pay attention to their speech, body language and interaction with others. The next time you’re struggling with a difficult client or feeling flustered because of a crazy workload, take a few deep breaths and ask yourself, “How would they handle this?” Thinking like a leader will help you act like one, and eventually become one.
2. Take the initiative
Completing assigned tasks fulfills your job description but going beyond what’s required is what leaders do. Stay alert for ways to simplify processes or increase the bottom line. Take on projects not because someone asks you to, but because you saw the need and are willing to step up. The more proactive you are, the more you show others that you have the ability to lead.
3. Meet obstacles head on
Effective leaders do two things: 1) anticipate what might go wrong and take steps to avoid it, and 2) come up with solutions on their own and as a team. They don’t hand off difficult situations to others. Creative problem solving is an indispensable skill for any professional, but is particularly useful for administrative specialists whom people look to for support.
4. Take responsibility
When you make a mistake at work, such as sending a sensitive email to the wrong people, don’t make excuses or blame others. Instead, apologize straightaway and do whatever it takes to make things right. Far from showing weakness, taking responsibility for all your actions — good and bad — demonstrates your maturity and leadership acumen.
5. Don’t be afraid to delegate
Just because you’re in a support role doesn’t mean you can’t share certain duties or ask others for help. Let’s say you’ve been tasked with the year-end client gala. You’ll need help coordinating the invitation list, executive team, catering, entertainment and goodie bags. It’s perfectly valid to ask fellow administrative colleagues for assistance or bring in interim staff to help with logistics. Effective leaders know when not to go it alone.
6. Dare to negotiate
Do you tend to accept whatever you’re offered? Most leaders don’t. They know their value and don’t hesitate to advocate for themselves — respectfully and tactfully, of course. If it’s a pay raise you’re after, don’t demand or threaten. Instead, make the case for why you deserve more money. Maybe your role has evolved over time, or you’ve earned a university degree since you were hired. To put some solid numbers behind your request, consult the OfficeTeam 2019 Salary Guide.
7. Adopt ‘flexibility’ as your mantra
Accept that the unexpected will happen, and be adept at making Plans B, C and D. Need to obtain last-minute travel visas for the executive team? Have to pinch-hit for your boss and give a shareholder presentation? The ability to adapt will serve you well now and as you climb the career ladder.
8. Never stop learning
Savvy professionals take every opportunity to acquire knowledge and information. Technology continues to transform society, and that means your company’s business is constantly changing as well. To keep yourself marketable and your skill set relevant, seek out training opportunities and ask for career development.
9. Go out and network
Even if they’re shy at heart, successful executives realize the importance of cultivating relationships and enlarging their circle of contacts. So, get to know employees from all parts of the business, both in person and on social media. Go to office parties, company picnics and other social events. When you increase your visibility, you improve your chances of getting recommended for promotions and new projects.
Playing it safe is the easy option, but it won’t get you to where you want to be as an administrative professional. Leaders are who they are today because they’ve put themselves forward and tried something new and even scary. To enjoy a full and satisfying career, dare to do the same.