Key leadership trait to pass to your admin assistant

Many times, the leadership traits that are the most recognized go unnoticed until they aren’t there. So, you could be demonstrating a great trait all the time, but no one will know it because, by demonstrating it, people don’t even realize you’re doing it.

The problem can be that those that “speak” on your behalf sometimes might not even be aware of that leadership trait or even care. After all, they aren’t in your position and they might not even realize the importance of the trait. They might me doing what they think is right at the expense of your reputation as a leader.

This can be especially true of the leader’s administrative assistant. This person sends out messages, accepts meeting requests, and sends out meeting invites on your behalf. That’s just a small part of their job, but in this aspect, they are often speaking as you.

So, let’s examine the leadership trait of Respect and how it applies in this situation.

In a business environment, a stellar way of demonstrating respect for others is to not schedule a meeting with them when they have another meeting scheduled, when they’re planning to be out of the office, or when they’re taking the day off. In today’s day and age, most big businesses use Outlook where you can look for open time on someone’s calendar. If you don’t have this tool at your disposal, it would be proper protocol to ask when is a good time. Outlook has definitely streamlined that process.

Additionally, once you schedule a meeting with someone’ you really want to try to keep that meeting as scheduled and not juggle it around. The person(s) that you’re meeting with have other priorities and are probably scheduling around your meeting and might actually turn some important things down to be respectful to your meeting request. So, it can be really disrespectful to be constantly moving a meeting date and time after it’s been set up.

This pretty much rings true for meetings that others requested as well. You don’t want to be constantly moving, canceling, and adjusting meetings that someone else set or requested once they’re set.

This is a very easy thing for us, regardless if we are in a leadership role or not, to ensure we do. For the most part, most of us do this, but some however have to learn this. Not respecting someone’s time and schedule is essentially not respecting them. If you respect someone using this rule, the people you work with probably won’t even notice. Don’t do it and they’ll get the message.

So, what if you are leader and have someone that manages your calendar? They respond to meeting requests and send out meeting invites on your behalf. You might have the ultimate respect for people’s time and schedule, but you’re not the one sending out the emails.

This person’s job is to literally manage your calendar and make sure you get to the meetings that are important and your time is managed effectively. Sometimes, that means the person doing the work might not be focusing on the same thing you might–they may be disrespecting people all day long through your Outlook calendar.

I have dealt with these people. They schedule meetings based on the boss’ time without regard to what is currently on your calendar–it’s not what’s best for you, but what’s best for their boss. They also propose alternate times for meetings you set up that aren’t convenient for you. The last and most frustrating thing they do is constantly moving meetings.

Leaders are busy and sometimes their schedules get high jacked by others who are more important than them–normally their admin assistants. The little guy or gal, are the ones left in the lurch. They get meeting requests when they’re planning to be on vacation or out of the office for errands or appointments. They get double booked by the boss and then they have to cancel some other meeting they planned to attend or they even set up themselves. Of course, when bowing out or canceling the meeting they are respectfully sending an email apologizing and then reschedule based on the other person’s open schedule.

Leaders…you need to share your trait of respect to your administrative assistant. They need to respect other people’s time and schedule just like you would. If they don’t, they’re giving you a bad reputation.

The impression people get is that you are rude and could care less about others as you constantly ignore their lives and upset their day. I’m pretty sure that you do not intend for this to happen, but it’s happening anyway. And what’s worse is that it has your name on it.

For those leaders that don’t give two cents about other’s time and schedules, this blog is not for you and it’s a wonder how you got to where you are today being that way. I will tell you that everyone that works for you thinks that you are a total jerk.

For those who have assistants that act this way without regard for others, everyone also think you are a total jerk.

If I were you, I would take a closer look at what’s going on in your front office. What message are you unintentionally sending?

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About johnrknotts
John Knotts is a results-oriented business professional leader, manager, and supervisor with experience from the military, small business, several nonprofits, and is currently a management consultant. Working out of the San Antonio, Texas, he retired from the Air Force in July 2008 and worked with Booz Allen Hamilton from the end of October 2008 to December 2011. Now he is a Strategic Business Adviser with USAA. John leads large and small strategic transformations and has extensive experience in the areas of change management, strategic planning, process improvement, strategic communication and marketing, strategic human capital and resource management, education and training, facilitation, organizational design and development, modeling and simulation, financial and budget analysis, activity based costing and management, quality management, competitive sourcing and privatization, leadership development, and business development.

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