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#NinjaLeadership: 3 Takeaways from What It Means to Be an Admin and a Leader

Read the Full #NinjaLeadership Series:
Intro | Joanne Linden | Melissa Smith | Crystal Le | Takeaways

As Office Ninjas, we know that leadership is rarely just a title—though admin job titles are important too. Leadership is a responsibility; a combination of listening and learning and adapting. It doesn’t trickle down from the top executive to the senior executive to the junior executive, but it’s around every corner so workers can rise to the challenge to make their office and work life that much better.

This—without a doubt—includes Office Ninjas. It’s up to us to change the perception that Admins, Executive Assistants and Office Managers aren’t leaders, because we most certainly are. To quote OfficeNinjas Ambassador Melissa Smith, “I have never—nor will I ever be—a subordinate.”

Luckily, there are so many Office Ninjas in the community doing just that—changing the way we are seen and leading by example. We’re so incredibly grateful to Office Ninjas Joanne Linden, Melissa Smith, and Crystal Le for lending their time and wisdom on all things leadership. Below, we’ve written up the key takeaways from these interviews (and your comments) so that you can be an even better leader in 2016.

Takeaway #1: Self-Improvement Is Essential

Jason Shah, the founder and CEO of Do and a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), wrote for Fast Company that, “A basic working knowledge of psychology can also help leaders become more self-aware. And that can become a virtuous circle, helping you help others attain self-mastery.” First leaders need self-awareness; then they can work toward self-improvement. Why? Well, look at it this way—if you aren’t working to improve yourself, you must think there’s nothing to change. Right? Au contraire.

Self-improvement is key. As Crystal Le said, “Be the person that seeks continuous improvement personally and professionally. Look inward and master your own role first. Then can improvements be made and the rest will come naturally.”

As Joanne Linden told us, “In my experience, the people that are respected EA leaders continually strive to stay at the top by constantly acting on self-improvement ideas. They are open to new viewpoints in the way you work or communicate, they start developing strategies with their executive on goals that benefit both careers, benefit their executive, and their personal life.” Well said.

Takeaway #2: Serving Others

All too often leaders forget: leadership is about service. It’s that simple. Being a leader means that you are in a position to serve others. That’s one of the many reasons why admins make such good leaders—because they understand how important it is to be willing to serve others. Whether it’s your customers, investors, colleagues, your team or community, leaders have a responsibility and a privilege to lead.

Too often, we think of leaders as those who are attended to; in reality, the best leaders are the ones who are willing to serve others (though not in a subordinate matter, of course). As Melissa Smith advises, “Helping others is the action behind the words and your actions are what people will remember. Make your actions count and you’ll earn the trust and respect of others.”

Takeaway #3: Get Involved

Joanne Linden said, “It’s up to us to break the cycle of how administrators are viewed and the best way to do that is for us to step up.” No matter where you are in your career, it’s very important that you join professional communities to network with other admins.

Step up where, exactly? It’s important that workers in the admin world find communities that deal with their specific circumstances. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve already honed in on the OfficeNinjas community (and we’re so happy to connect with you and all the other admins out there)! In addition to our own community, Joanne suggests public speaking groups like Dale Carnegie Training and Toastmasters.

Another place for admins to jump into leadership roles and committees? Work. As Melissa Smith put it, “It’s extremely important to take on leadership roles because we need to have our perspective shared. If you’re being shut out or run into obstacles to join a leadership team, ask to be part of an ‘evangelist group.’ Most companies are now aware that in order to get a ‘buy in,’ they need to have people who can champion the product or system even when you run into the inevitable snags. By volunteering for one of these groups, you’ll immediately make yourself a leader.”

And on that note, we’d like to thank everyone who tweeted, commented and chatted with us about leadership on the internet. We hope you take this knowledge to be a better leader come 2016.

Any additional leaderships tips you would add?