Why Would Someone Want To Be Your Assistant?

Hallie just celebrated her nine year anniversary working with me, and Amy is coming up on year two. That’s no easy feat! I’m not always easy to work with and I know it (so do they!).

I have high standards and a high sense of urgency. I expect resourcefulness and a “figure it out and get shit done” attitude. I have a lot of ideas and projects that need to be sifted through, strategized, triaged, and executed. I expect a rapid response, adaptability, flexibility, quality work, and creative problem solving. I like being unfocused. Hell, I started a company so that I could be unfocused and have my hands in a lot of different things. So, I need great people beside me to diligently stay focused on a task or project until it is done. I live in the big picture, in the vision, and can see the end result crystal clear. I need someone else beside me to take care of all the details, keep me organized, to remind me when and where I need to be, to help me clearly communicate the vision, to maximize my reach, and more.

So, why would someone want to be my assistant? Or yours?

I’m not the only CEO or entrepreneur who has asked this question. When I’m talking to small business owners or entrepreneurs who are debating whether or not to make their first assistant hire, they often ask, “How will I find someone who will want to do that job?” They genuinely cannot understand why someone would willingly (and happily!) take on the miscellaneous 80% of the day-to-day details and minutia of leading a busy Executive and helping mange the business. Furthermore, many Execs don’t understand that being an Executive Assistant is actually a career. A career that very successful businessmen and businesswomen choose.

To be honest, in the early years of working with various assistants and probably the first year or so working with Hallie, I didn’t really get it either. It was a job. Stuff needed to get done. So, I hired someone to handle the “stuff” without giving it much thought. But Hallie did give it a lot of thought. Within a few months, Hallie had figured out that being an Executive Assistant was not a stepping stone to another position, but a dynamic and fulfilling career all on its own.

Here’s what Hallie has said about being my strategic partner, “This is what I am meant to do. I am meant to be a leader, but don’t like the spotlight. I am entrepreneurial, but risk adverse. I have leadership skills, but could never/would never want to lead a team of people (I am more suited to “leading” one person – the Founder). At my core, I get immense satisfaction from helping a visionary be more successful – whether that’s helping them write an email, speech, or book, coming up with an idea for the organization, helping rearrange divisions, hire other leaders for the company, or tell him about a great book to read to help him grow. Being a Force Multiplier isn’t for everyone. You have to be 100% okay being behind the scenes and not getting credit for your work, but at the same time getting fulfillment from knowing you have a massive impact on the leader and the overall trajectory of the organization. I could go on and on…”

She really could, so let’s pause there. Years ago, Hallie leaned into the role of Executive Assistant (and later Chief of Staff) and owned it. And I leaned (okay, sometimes pushed) back. Together, we started to challenge each other, take on various tasks within our strength zones, and started really growing as leaders, professionals, and people and so did the organization.

I don’t get any joy or fulfillment from being in the details, planning, organizing or force multiplying, that’s why I hired an EA in the first place. And I bet your EA doesn’t get any fulfillment from making sales calls, presenting to the board, taking huge financial risks, or pitching to potential investors. If she or he did, that person would have chosen a different career path. Suffice it to say, that’s why we call it a strategic partnership. You both need each other to survive and thrive. It is a huge job and responsibility to lead an organization, it takes two people (sometimes three) to get the job done.

So the lesson is to stop putting limits on the position! When you approach the EA role as a subservient, menial, “why would anyone want to do that job?” position, you are significantly downplaying the opportunity. And I guarantee the caliber of candidates you are meeting with are living up to your very low expectations. Flip the script! This is a massive career opportunity. The chance to work alongside and learn from a CEO or entrepreneur, while using all of their skills, experience, leadership, and being perfectly aligned with their natural behavioral style? Yeah, this is what Force Multipliers want and need. And you need them, too.

Why would someone want to be your assistant? Because it is a killer career opportunity, but only if you also rise to the occasion. You must be the leader that attracts a leader – a Force Multiplier. Are you up to the challenge?

Need more help understanding who you need by your side and how to best lead together? Join me and Hallie for our four-week online course, The Founder & The Force Multiplier starting on October 16. Learn how to build a successful strategic partnership so you can achieve more together!

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