Over the last 18 months, I’ve been honoured and privileged to not only speak at quite a few conferences for Assistants but also work with them, either when facilitating workshops specifically for Assistants or delivering team development sessions for them and the teams they belong to in their organisations.
This has given me a fascinating external insight into the community that for ease, I will call Assistants, as it encompasses Personal Assistants, Executive Assistants, Management Assistants, Administrative Assistants and Virtual Assistants and other titles I may have omitted. Essentially, anyone whose primary role is to provide support and assistance to another person or group of people and in doing so, reduce the burden of work upon them.
Whilst this doesn’t in anyway make me an expert on Assistants, there are a number of things I have observed and discovered which has prompted me to write this article. It is my take on what makes Assistants and their community unique in relation to all the other industry sectors that I have worked with.
At the end of July, I published a poem entitled “That’s What Being An Assistant Is All About” It has had over 14,000 hits to date, so it appears to have been well received by Assistants worldwide however, this article goes beyond this to identify 6 areas that I believe gives Assistants and their community the X-Factor over and above others.
They are in no particular order of importance however, I believe that the combination of these is key.
The key to our individual success lies in our ability to adapt our behaviour to meet the needs of others and in doing so build strong, positive, long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships with others. However, to do this, we must firstly understand ourselves and the attributes that are deemed important in the roles we undertake.
In late 2014, I surveyed many Assistants asking what were the top attributes required to be successful in their role. Responses were numerous and varied. The top four were Forward-Thinking, Flexible, Organised and Patient.
What I have observed with Assistants is that they understand the power of emotional intelligence and also how to use theirs to build effective relationships with others.
The full article can be read here: Are You A Personally Adaptable Assistant?
Whoever I have met and wherever I have met them, Assistants are always passionate about their role and are amazing ambassadors for the wider community. There is a great sense of pride in what they do and the positive benefits they and their role deliver to organisations. I always come away from working with Assistants feeling extremely positive, as their energy and can-do attitude is infectious.
Whilst some Assistants don’t realise this, the skills employed on a daily basis, when examined, are those that would be expected of leaders. If you don’t believe me, here is an article based on working with a PA recently. If You Are An Earth Green PA, Don’t Belittle The Value You Add.
Desire To Learn
The desire to learn is second to none. Assistants I have met, all want to better themselves, either with professional studies and qualifications or by undertaking learning that will make them a more rounded individual. I’ve noted that quite often, this learning is undertaken in their own time and often at their own cost. I have never come across any other community where individuals are prepared to give up their own valuable time to attend courses, often without any recompense for the cost or time involved from their organisations. Personally, I feel strongly that this needs to change however until it does, Assistants continue to go that extra mile to better themselves.
Champions Of Causes
Whether it is gender inequality, lack of training opportunities, bullying or bad behaviour, the Assistant community is not afraid to speak up and champion the cause. Sometimes these situations are difficult to confront however when one person does, the community rallies around to support that person. If you do find it difficult to speak up, here is an article that I wrote with some tips to help you, 7 Tips To Help You Speak Up About Bad Behaviour.
And of course, when Assistants do speak up, great things can happen as you can read here.
Supportive Of Others
The old adage that “Knowledge Is Power” applies to the Assistant community however there is a marked difference in how this power is used. Whereas others keep their knowledge as a competitive advantage, I have noticed how Assistants support others and share freely of their knowledge, experience, contacts and connections to help others. Whether it is face to face or via social media, there is always someone offering their knowledge and experience freely to help others. The community has some excellent speakers and subject-matter experts, willing to share their learning at conferences and networking events throughout the world.
I am sure that there are things that I have missed, however as someone external to the Assistant community, but working closely within it, I hope that my observations resonate with individuals and the community as a whole and that you’ve found value in my observations of your X-Factor.
Finally, if you have enjoyed this article, please do take time to read more of my articles, specific to the Assistant community via my blog site Yours Behaviourally, where I have dedicated pages for Articles For Assistants and also images/quotations relevant to the community, entitled PA/EA/VA Power.
You can also follow me on Twitter @NgageingNick
Yours behaviourally, Nick
Ngagementworks: Engaging individuals, Motivating teams, helping them Transform and achieve even greater Success.