Most of my work is with executives and director level leaders such as CEO’s, School Principals and Heads of Departments. They typically have an assistant to provide administrative support and clerical assistance to help manage their daily calendar, schedule meetings, travel and other demands on the executive’s time. They also run errands, screen phone calls, supervise clerical assistants and draft letters and other documentation on behalf of the executive.
People performing these tasks are either labelled an Administrative, Executive or Personal Assistant. They must always possess excellent written and verbal communication skills, interpersonal skills and be well organised. Over 90% of assistants are female, of a mature age (35 to 55 years of age) and have been promoted from within a clerical team of the same organisation, which serves to highlight the importance of organisational knowledge to this role.
In 2016, I identified the need of assistance to me. However, I wasn’t convinced I needed an assistant. I hired someone in April of that same year without following the conventions outlined above. In some cases, that was intentional and in others, I simply couldn’t because I was a team of one. I didn’t hire a person with similar experience gained elsewhere. I hired a 23-year-old with no background in administrative or clerical assistance, leadership or consulting. Her name is Sam and the working relationship between Sam and I has fundamentally changed my life and improved the quality of my work and my overall productivity.
To the executives and director level leaders I work with who have an external perspective of my relationship with Sam, it would appear that she is an Executive Assistant. We are highly visible to them because she travels with me to most places I work. It seems that my initial employment of Sam attracted a great deal of curiosity amongst these leaders. I was often questioned as to why I selected a young inexperienced person for the job. For me, the answer has always fallen back to The 15 Disciplines. Apply them consciously and anything is possible.
The executives and director level leaders we work with have experienced and observed first hand, the steady improvement in the quality of our work and my overall productivity since Sam joined me in 2016. I often find Sam deep in conversation with one or more of these leaders answering their questions about working with me and her overall job role. Together, and at times separately, we have been informally consulted to provide our perspectives on recruiting new assistants and how to build relationships with them. It seems that we have awoken a deep curiosity about the Executive and Assistant relationship.
Now I should say at this point, our working relationship is not perfect. No relationship is. Like any kind of relationship, it requires hard work, mutual respect, acceptance and tolerance. Neither individual should ever feel inferior and both should fulfil their responsibilities to it because it is the right thing to do. We work hard at ‘us’ and that pays off in so many ways.
Recently, it was suggested that I write a monologue or short book to provide insights into our working relationship. So here it is. Our latest book called, ‘Building a Team of Two’. The book will be broken down into chapters and released as blogs published on our website and communicated through our social media channels. Once all chapters are finally released, the complete book will be available for free to download from our website.