They say that a CEO can have the loneliest job.
So what about their Executive / Personal Assistant?
A CEO often confides in their EA / PA.
But who does the EA / PA confide in?
An Assistant often has huge weight on their shoulders…
They are bound to secrecy, responsible for more than they might have imagined and accountable for those responsibilities.
There is an expectation an Assistant must be grounded, solid, reliable and so on.
Of course they are, they wouldn’t be doing what they do if they weren’t.
But sometimes it gets too much:-
Achieving consistently high and, at times, unrealistic results
Managing a person’s busy and, often, complicated, personal and business life
Remaining positive and enthusiastic at stressful times
🚫 It can become overwhelming
🚫 It can knock their confidence
🚫 It can block their mindset
🚫 It can create burnout
That’s why having a Mentor can be helpful to Assistants so they can receive the support they need to fulfil their all encompassing role with confidence whilst developing themselves in a personal and professional level.
Imagine waking up with an energy you haven’t had for a really long time...
The feeling of wanting to go to work and do something special.
An air of excitement surprises you because you haven’t wanted to get stuck into a work related project for what seems like forever.
Why is it different now?
What has changed?
Knowing that you are on course to take a journey of self-discovery that allows you to be more productive but less overwhelmed at the same time as taking care of your well-being.
It might sound too good to be true.
But it is not.
Finding a mentor who suits you, your style and your approach is the most important factor.
There are many coaches and mentors out there, however, it is the relationship between you and them that will lead to an experience that will truly change how you are feeling, the way in which you are doing things and provide you with a future management system to tackle challenges in the future.
No one is the same.
As Assistants, we may do the same tasks and have the same end goals but between all of that there is something unique to each individual. Any mentor you work with should tailor everything around you so that it works for you.
Choosing a mentor is key
Your Mentor needs to be able to read you quickly, perceive your needs and be one step ahead as to how you might react in any given situation.
Warning! This does not come with a paper certificate...
It is experience, and time spent, in any role that allows for pretty much any eventuality to be planned for. Having an experienced senior EA knowing what you deal with day to day is key. No one in the world knows how lonely it can be to have so much information that a CEO or MD has confided in you with and you need to talk with someone about the burden that sometimes brings.
Equally, there is often a lack of awareness of how long things take and so, when someone suggests that you ‘just quickly’ do this or that or ‘tweak’ something here or there has a direct knock on effect on your plan for the day, with deadlines to meet and, in a wider context, how to fight the fires and juggle the spinning plates whilst remaining calm and measured (and smiley?!).
A mentor’s personal traits come into play here too.
Having someone who naturally sees other people’s opinions and be an empath (either through direct experience or what they have seen over the years) will be hugely valuable in your development.
Any mentor should tailor a programme for you and you alone, it should encompass all the things that you need support in and is there for you to encourage, motivate and empower you to make your own decisions in any scenario.
Mentoring for Mental Well-being
With the mental health of many people not being addressed sufficiently, there are many reasons that finding a Mentor with a mental health awareness qualification is useful.
Whilst many corporate HR departments openly advertise that the mental well-being of their staff is of paramount importance, it is very much the case that most staff do not and would never consider using their HR functions to explore their mental health further.
There are two reasons for this.
The first may be that the HR’s offering is insincere. Panic often sweeps across many corporate firms when a member of staff reports or is seen to be experiencing mental health issues. They worry that the right things must be said and because there is no one qualified to do that, they sweep it under the carpet altogether.
It is easy for corporate firms to say they ‘have it covered’, ‘it’s in hand’ or ‘it is something [they] recognise’...
But it is not easy to do. Independent mentoring can be a lifeline for companies to keep the well-being of their staff at the top of their agenda, allowing people to genuinely deal with common mental health issues in an independent environment.
The second issue is that most members of staff do not trust that, by sharing their mental health challenges, it serves them well to progress in the role they are in or their career. There is a wide sense of feeling that if they were to raise their mental health challenges within their company, they would be discriminated against (despite all that is said and of course should be done).
The third point to raise is that most people with mental health issues do not want themselves labelled and they certainly don’t need their challenges shared with people they don’t trust. The issue with this is that if they do decide to confide in one person within a senior position of the company, that senior person is most likely going to (need to) share it with another (or two). You can see where this is going...
The member of staff that is experiencing mental health challenges during any given period does not want to be ‘labelled’ forever (when mental health is managed well, it does not need to be ‘a thing’). It also, more importantly, creates a paranoia that someone that they do not trust or like has information about them that makes them feel worse at an already vulnerable time. The need for an independent person to be able to share these challenges with is far more beneficial to someone in that position.
The overwhelm, the responsibility, the mental challenges that come with the job can often be burdensome.
To have someone, independent to the company you are in, who is qualified in mental health awareness and understands the nature of your role to share you challenges, solve problems and be able to look after your well-being much better so that life becomes easier can only be positive.
The final point about mental health is that it shouldn’t necessarily be seen as negative.
Positive mental health is the ultimate aim at all levels and so actively managing it independently is undoubtedly going to lead to positive outcomes in all aspects of a person’s life.
By having an independent mentor to be able to discuss how your positive mental well-being is managed can act as a catalyst for a better overall result in productivity, satisfaction and ambition.
What should you look for in a Mentor?
A calm and confident person is a good start.
Your Mentor should be someone who is positive, but not too positive, because sometimes you just want someone to agree with you that what you have experienced is unfair or just not right.
A good communicator is key, maybe obvious, but to get the most out of what you are after, it may be better to have someone that will ask questions to clarify what you might really mean, someone that will dig a little deeper to ensure that you are being challenged personally, to define exactly where you are at in your journey, develop yourself to the highest degree and strengthen the resilience within.
With this comes someone who can connect with a variety of people at all levels. Finding out what makes you tick quickly, reading you and having a good perception is going to allow the relationship to grow and develop more quickly, building a trust that is long lasting.
The Mentor you choose should be able to teach people in a variety of ways. As we all learn differently, being able to explore solutions to problem in different ways will allow you to feel comfortable in your development and how to approach different scenarios.
It’s not all about you either. The person you decide to work with needs to be good at motivating and encouraging, listening and supporting you – in what ever way that takes. Some people like reassurance, others are straight talkers and so it is key to getting the right balance that works with your style of learning and development.
It is important the Mentor you choose to work with is in for the right reasons.
Why is it so important to them to want to mentor you, and why you?
Are they delivering a more generic, broad brush programme or are they offering something that you have the ability of moulding and creating yourself, so that it meets your specific needs and will help you in the longer term?
What experience have they got? It is all well and good they have a certificate but have they actually been in and done the role that you do, do they know exactly where you are coming from, how you feel when you have done your best and even that, sometime, does not seem like it’s enough.
What do they know about how you feel, what anxiety feels like, OCD, depression, ADHD and other mental health challenges?
Ideally, they will have been where you are - they will know what it’s like to be in the role that you are in and feel the pressure that overwhelms you at times. They will know what you want next and understand that you have it under control (most of the time) but would benefit from some guided support that is owned by you.
They need to have experienced it, known people who have, worked with people that have had mental health challenges, and be able to be empathetic to your needs.
One thing they should not be is a counsellor, they are not that. But they should be aware of your mental health and be able to provide ways to create a better and more positive mental well-being when it is needed.
They should be able to clearly understand what working in high pressured environments for a number of years is like, they need to understand how mental health and a lack of well-being can affect you, your work and your personal life, your relationships with others and, ultimately, you.
What is next for you?
It may be that, by reading this, you have a plan in your head.
You feel you have things under control, your personal development plan, the way in which you carry out the many functions within your role, your own mental well-being and that of others, you have it mapped out and you are ready to implement it.
What I have experience in is that it is not easy to have someone REALLY look after themselves unless it’s within an independent setting.
That’s how the Mindful Mentoring Programme was born.
MMP is tailored to each individual Assistant, focusing on specific areas of development, whether it is hard or soft skills or mental well-being.
A 6 week programme that allows the areas that are being focused on to be discussed and reviewed with a plan of action put in place to make Assistants feel they want to do their job for longer, aim for more senior positions or even start their own business.
Assistants can walk away calmer and less overwhelmed, motivated to wanting to juggle the responsibilities they have and be able to put their well-being at the forefront in all that they do to achieve positive outcomes.
It is certainly a positive step to Assistants’ self-development and I am amazed by the results my previous mentees have achieved after working with me…
💫 to build their confidence
💫 develop their skills
💫 feel empowered
💫 make decisions
💫 achieve their goals
They put their trust in me so I could quickly understand their true needs and support them in a way that suited them.
They felt safe to be able to be their true selves and be honest with what they wanted because their mission was bigger than their fears.
They were able to:
👏🏻 Gain a sense of self-belief to flourish in all aspects of their life
👏🏻 Develop their skills to become top of their game
👏🏻 Climb the career ladder to transition into a senior role effortlessly
👏🏻 Receive the recognition they deserve
👏🏻 Recognising that their well-being ultimately defines how they can achieve what they have set their minds to
Because when your mental, emotional, physical and social well-being is good, you have the tools to forget about your fears and live a balanced life.
Your mind is the most powerful tool you have and it is important to understand what makes you tick and why so that you can conquer the challenges you face.
The way I mentor is truly different.
I encourage you to engage with yourself and discover your true values.
You can explore how things work for you so that you feel positive in your decisions and secure in your self-belief so that you can transition from overwhelm to well-being.
If you are ready to become more productive in all aspects of your life, you need to prioritise your well-being first.
Get in touch to discuss how I can help.