-by Jessica Vann
In our most recent installment of Maven’s event series, Admins on the Rise, we posed these questions to our fabulous panelists: “What is leverage, and what does it mean to give leverage?”
This goes beyond the Dictionary.com definition that reads, “to use (something) to maximum advantage” – in this case, that “something” being the Executive Assistant role. We really wanted to understand how EAs are able to leverage their role within companies to their absolute maximum potential.
So, why did we ask this question? It’s something that keeps coming up in our conversations with clients. We are consistently asked, “How do we best maximize our EAs?” “How do we fully embed this role into our workflow to be impactful?” (Spoiler alert, EAs, this is something you should be prepared to speak to in interviews!)
To get to the heart of the question of leverage within the EA and Executive relationship, we sat down with a panel of incredible, accomplished professionals on a balmy evening in downtown Palo Alto (thank you, @Coupa Café, for the awesome spread and venue).
Our panelists that evening included:
· Solmaz VanDaie, Head of Operations/EA to CEO at OpenGov
· Erin Boeckman, Operations Manager of Amplify Partners
· Christie Idehara, Executive Assistant to the Dean of the Stanford School of Medicine
We started with the basics: “What does leverage mean to you?”
Erin defines leverage as when you can “find ways to activate your team by figuring out the ways different people work and what helps them be most effective and productive, while also doing the same for yourself. I have a toolbox I use…to help get the results I’m looking for and help the company, ultimately.”
Christie considers leverage to be when you take a “circumstance, whether it be an action, event, or challenge, and manipulate it to where you become the manager of that particular effort,” as opposed to being managed BY it!
Some key themes emerged from our panelists’ advice:
1. Take chances and trust your gut:
Says Erin: “Trust yourself to make good decisions. Sometimes you have to go to bat and advocate, but ultimately, have the confidence to propel yourself and the company forward.” Erin followed up that comment with more sage words. “Do the research and make yourself the expert on that topic. Show your executives you’re the person who has the answer. When you become the person with the knowledge and the expertise, then they can learn to trust you and trust your decision making.”
2. Personal touches
Says Christie: “So much can be done with a personal touch, and relationships are where you can really get a huge gain!”
3. The importance of your network
Solmaz reminds us of the importance of maintaining relationships and staying connected to your network for the advice or insight you will need from them at times. Part of achieving leverage also means knowing who can get you an answer or solution the fastest!
Above all, I think everyone (myself included) left the event feeling empowered by their role and the opportunity to propel change forward in their organization. Every time we hold an Admins on the Rise event, it’s a constant reminder of how vital and effective the Executive Assistant, Operations, and support roles are in a company.
Thank you again to all who participated and attended our event! Not only does Admins on the Rise build up the admin community, we also seek to build the community immediately around us, in this instance giving back through Maven-matched donations to East Palo Alto-based Girls to Women (thanks, everyone!).
Stay tuned for our next Admins on the Rise event, coming soon!