One of the great benefits of being a leader is having access to a staff. Unless you’re a leader working on your own or with a very small team, chances are you have at least an assistant to help with your responsibilities. I can tell you that great assistants have made an incredible difference for me over the years, from assisting with travel arrangements, scheduling meetings, managing the office, and much more – which allowed me to focus on what I’m really gifted to accomplish.
But however beneficial a great assistant can be, a significant mistake leaders make is farming out the responsibility of their time and calendar. Guarding your time and calendar is a precious thing, and turning it over to someone who doesn’t know all your constantly changing relationships, priorities, or vision, can be a dangerous thing.
Certainly a long time assistant has a very good idea of your priorities and vision for the future, but think about it: you’re constantly meeting new people, shifting relationships, learning new information, and adjusting goals so there’s simply no way even the best assistant can read your mind.
Here’s my advice: at least once a week, sit down with your assistant and go over everything. In between those meetings, have your assistant keep a list of people who request appointments he or she isn’t sure about so they can run them by you face to face. I’d have them do the same thing with speaking requests, invitations to events, and meetings. I get some pretty crazy meeting requests and phone calls myself, but my assistant never turns them down without asking me first, because well, you never know…
Chances are your assistant will get it right most of the time, but the one or two things that slip through could be costly in terms of your growth, influence, and relationships.
Taking an hour a week to check on your assistant’s questions or unusual requests could reap enormous rewards later.