by Ursula Kohler, Instructor of the Building a Strong Relationship with Your Principal Course and Founder of Capital EA
I nearly blew it
Confession time! I nearly destroyed a role that I had longed for because I lost all trust in my skills once I got the job and spent months trying to prove my worth.
Though I spent my time convincing the powers-that-be that I was the right person for the role, I lost all confidence in my own abilities once I actually landed the role. I spent way too much time trying to prove myself as an administrative magician and mind-reader.
It’s no surprise to anyone that this tactic didn’t work. I spent too long on projects trying to guess what the principal needed, I made judgment calls with too little information, I was constantly trying to catch-up and I was beginning to give away the respect I had from day one.
Clawing it back
It is much easier to start off on the right foot with a principal than to have to claw it back after a rocky start. Luckily, I was able to do just that through dogged determination, after all I knew I had all the skills needed, I just needed to trust myself and get on with it.
So after much angst, I finally built up the courage to have an open and very transparent discussion. I raised my concerns and essentially asked if we could start again, of which I also provided him an out, if he preferred, as I no longer wanted to work with dread, anxiety and low self-esteem!
I gave him time to think about it, and left him with it. That afternoon, he approached me, with a big smile on his face and said he’d like to take me up on my offer to reset! From that very day, we began to form a trusted working relationship, and one that I could never have envisaged would give me the confidence to build my own successful business today.
I promise you a relationship built on strong self-regard, mutual respect and transparency allows you to work faster, be more productive and provides you with the most satisfaction in your role. A role you can wholeheartedly believe makes a big impact to your principal and your organization!
Light Bulb Moment
Years later when I was building my own business I met with executives and principals who consistently expressed that they were looking for someone exemplary (read “magical.”) Someone that could run with whatever was thrown at them, and could seamlessly be an extension of their business and office.
I found myself explaining to them that we could easily find a highly-skilled EA who could provide a plethora of support but that they would need insider information. Information the principal could provide about his/her working style and role demands, as well as the company’s policies and procedures. The more the EA knew the faster he/she could “bibbity-boppity-boo” frictionless scheduling and clarity into the principal’s day.
On the other side, I also found we were meeting with exceptional EAs who consistently undermined the experience and skill they had accumulated.
This was a light bulb moment!
What seems so obvious to me now, but hadn’t when I myself was a corporate EA, was that EAs tend to discount the quality and quantity of the skills they already have in the tank and this knocks their self-esteem. That lack of confidence prevents them from asking the questions that need asking to get the job done faster and more efficiently.
In fact, I believe that 80% of building a successful relationship with your principal is the knowledge and skills you bring to the table, the Intellectual Property (IP) you have acquired throughout your career. This misguided perception cascades into a lack of confidence to ask questions, raise concerns and expect mutual respect.
Intellectual Property + Insider Information
Each person in this professional relationship has to bring something to the table. Once we begin to recognized this in our own business, we began to lead with a new ‘trusted’ belief system. We instilled in the EAs that they were employed, contracted, and consulted for their wisdom and know-how to be a business partner in achieving results. The rest is in fact on them to help you understand their needs and the needs of the organization.
While it may seem obvious, I see assistants consistently fall into the same trap that I did all those years ago. This is why I was so excited to build this course for you all. My goal is to help you gain confidence by identifying your strengths, accumulated knowledge and self-worth. Plus, you will learn how to start your relationship off on the right-foot with your principal by dodging ambiguity through confidence, research and managing expectations.
So who is ready to form a stronger partnership with your boss?
Webinar: Achieve True Collaboration Through Mutual Respect and Vision
Raise your hand if you’ve ever worked for a boss that just didn’t understand your role?
🙋♀️ I see those hands!
⦿ Did it make it easier or harder to do your job?
⦿ Were you able to turn that relationship around?
⦿ How did it affect your self-esteem?
⦿ Did you lose confidence in your own abilities?
Being able to build a strong and successful working relationship with your principal can make or break a role. It can also deeply impact your quality of life.
When it’s good you have confidence in your abilities, you feel useful and are afforded respect.
When it’s bad you are stress, filled with self-doubt and consumed by work.
I’m so excited to be speaking with my dear friend Ursula Kohler, Founder of Capital EA. Both her and I would have raised our hands to these questions at one point in time but we’ve learned how to forge strong connections with business leaders based on mutual respect and vision. We can’t wait to talk to you about what we’ve learned and how to get this relationship right.
We hope to see you there on Thursday. Tell us about what you’ve learned about forging this relationship below.