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About This Episode

This is a special recap episode highlighting some of our most popular content from the past year. 

 

Excerpts include Tricia and LZ’s advice on how to say no and helping employees be productive without micromanaging. Tricia and LZ’s assistants, Kate and Melissa, join the podcast to discuss best practices for working with an assistant. Ian Morgan Cron sits down with our hosts to talk about the Enneagram and how it relates to self-awareness and leadership. And Krisha Buehler walks us through building a supportive and available remote work culture. 

1. Good EAs are able to lead their leader.

Once you trust your EA enough to delegate your schedule to them, let them run with it! That’s their job. Part of being able to trust them is making sure you have the right person in place. This is someone who is confident and assertive enough to manage the schedule and tell you when you might be overstretching yourself. Of course, you still have the ultimate say on your time. But once you have the right EA, trust them to look out for you and do the job you hired them for. 

2. Every Enneagram number is capable of being a healthy, good leader.

Sometimes, certain people only associate specific numbers with leadership. But that’s wrong. For example, because nines are more quiet and laid back, they may not receive as much consideration for leadership positions. But some of the world’s best leaders, including some of America’s best presidents, were nines. The truth is, any number that is healthy and self aware has the potential to be a very good leader.

3. “No” is a complete sentence.

Simply saying no is enough. You don’t have to explain yourself or go into great detail about all the reasons this isn’t going to work. You can still be grateful and thank the person for the invite or opportunity while simply saying you can’t do what they’re asking right now. Saying “yes” to everything – or even trying to explain your “no” all the time – can be exhausting. Good leaders have learned that by simply saying “no” to the wrong things, they can say “yes” to the right things. 

 

What are some of the key benefits of having an assistant? 
Why do you believe some people only associate certain numbers with leadership?
Do you feel the need to explain when you say “no?” Why or why not?
Do you have a tendency to micromanage or are you more hands off? How do you balance those tendencies to be most effective as a leader?

Your teammate will only be as good as the investment you put into them.

Tricia Sciortino

You can't think strategically if you're in the weeds.

Lisa Zeeveld

A true, excellent executive assistant is not waiting to be delegated to.

Tricia Sciortino

You always want to give a little bit of extra grace.

Lisa Zeeveld

(01:47) Tricia and LZ’s assistants give some tips on how executive assistants can lead their leaders. 

(05:49) How do you build trust in your relationship with an assistant and let go of control?

(09:32) Ian Morgan Cron says people falsely sometimes don’t associate a certain number with being a leader, and that’s a shame. 

(14:13) Tricia talks about how she knows when it’s okay to say “no.” 

(17:20) LZ discusses getting acclimated and used to working remotely with new employees – and what the timeline looks like for doing so. 

(20:23) Hire adults who know how to do their job and do it well. Then trust them to do it. (In other words, stop micromanaging!)

Tricia Sciortino:

First I will go down by saying I am a control freak, so this is a good lesson for everybody. Because I do not like giving up control. However, if I am going to be a healthy and thriving leader, I must. So all of you out there listening who think you cannot do this, you can, I promise. If I can do it, you can do it.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to One Next Step, the most practical business podcast in the world. Helping you get more done, grow your business, and lead your team with confidence with tips and tools you didn’t get in business school. Here are your hosts, Tricia Sciortino and Lisa Zeeveld.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Welcome to One Next Step, the practical business podcast that helps you run your business so it stops running you. I’m Lisa Zeeveld.

Tricia Sciortino:

And I’m Tricia. Today, we’re looking back on the year with clips from some of the most popular and favorite episodes in 2021. We’ve had so many amazing guests this year and we could probably pull a highlight clip from every single one of them. But to narrow it down, we checked the stats to identify the most listened to episodes, and here they are.

Lisa Zeeveld:

In today’s episode, you’ll hear from Ian Morgan Cron, bestselling author of the popular Enneagram book: The Road Back to You. Krisha Buehler, Belays’ VP of human resources, our fabulous executive assistants, Kate Satell and Melissa Lawrence and Tricia and I will chime in with our thoughts on several topics as well

Tricia Sciortino:

As always. It’ll include some fabulous advice on working with an executive assistant, how the Enneagram helps to increase self-awareness and lead well, the power of learning to say no, creating a supportive and available culture, even in a remote environment and the downfalls of micromanagement. Let’s get started. Here’s our first clip with our good friends and executive assistants, Kate and Melissa.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Really, I mean, Kate and Melissa, you guys are leading us and we have to be willing to come with open palms. And when you say, no, you can’t do this meeting, say yes ma’am you’re right. I can’t. What are some tips really or some advice that you could give perhaps another EA who’s saying like, how do you lead your leader? Because I think that, that’s actually a real problem some EA’s have.

Melissa Lawrence:

Yeah. Definitely. I think understanding your leader’s goals and priorities is really important to helping to keep them on track with that, keep their eye on the prize. Being intentional about sitting down, maybe quarterly with them and understanding what their current goals and priorities are and then holding them accountable and doing things like blocking time on their calendar. I have time on calendar monthly for her vision planning for Belay because that’s something that would never happen if it I didn’t block time for that. Those are the kind of intangible things that are easy to kind of just get pushed out. Doing those things to where you’re helping to hold your leader accountable and protect their time to be able to achieve those goals.

Kate Sawtelle:

Yeah. That’s funny. We had another EA start this week so I got to meet with her and she asked a very similar question and I said, it’s really setting it up in, on the front end. Really starting out strong with the communication, with the expectations and figuring out how you communicate with each other, what works best for you because it’s not going to be the same for everyone. And then, I mean holding them accountable. Quote unquote calling them out when maybe they are doing something they shouldn’t. For example, great example from this week that.

Kate Sawtelle:

Totally on me too. I made a mistake, but I put PTO incorrectly on the calendar and Elsie corrected me as she should. But then she said, well, I’ve just gone in and changed it. And I was like, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. I can do that. I will fix my mistake. You shouldn’t be doing that. And so really catching them in those moments of again, just because you can do it does not mean that you should do it. And I know myself, like I made the mistake, I will absolutely fix it. But letting them know, Hey, thank you for telling me that I made a mistake because I don’t want to do that wrong again and giving that feedback and giving it in a very nice and gracious way. But you let me go in then and fix it. You didn’t have to waste your time doing that.

Tricia Sciortino:

And I think what I love, what I hope if there’s any assistants out there listening to this episode can take from this is that you guys really do a great job at emulating what it means to lead administratively and that you are proactive and you don’t wait to be delegated to. I think there’s this subset or this idea, this myth that for a VA, I’m sitting and I’m waiting for my leader to tell me what I’m supposed to do to help them now. You do not live in that category. A true, excellent executive assist is really not waiting to be delegated to.

Tricia Sciortino:

But however, seeing where there are gaps, where there’s work, looking ahead and being so proactive to say, Hey, I know you have this thing three weeks from now, let me start a presentation. Or I see you’re going to take a vacation. Let me reschedule meetings now. I think that’s what makes you, in my opinion, the best of the best, is that you really have the vision for leading forward and getting out of what’s happening today. Because for us, as leaders, being able to look ahead is where we need to be and if you are already there with us, what a blessing.

Lisa Zeeveld:

The first one is really how to build trust. I know that when we are at events, that’s again, one of the first questions besides what do I delegate goes, how do I trust them? How do I know it’s going to get done? So Tricia, you are the expert in this area of the business so how did you start out with your EA and then I know now with Melissa, really giving trust and relinquishing that control.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes. First I will go down by saying, I am a control freak. So this is a good lesson for everybody because I do not like giving up control. However, if I’m going to be a healthy and thriving leader, I must. All of you out there listening who think you cannot do this, you can, I promise. If I can do that, you can do it. First and foremost I think it’s realizing those things. Realize you’re a control freak and you don’t like giving things up. When Melissa first started, I was very transparent with her about that being the case. Some things I found very easy because I had no emotional attachment to them or I didn’t feel like I was good at them. Those were the things as I could easily give away like calendar and travel because I hated it and so I had no problem giving it up immediately.

Tricia Sciortino:

And then by setting really clear expectations about exactly how I liked it and how I wanted it and ideal work week and all the things we’ve talked about before, she was able to really run with it and deliver things successfully right out of the gate. I think starting with what will be easy for you to let go that you don’t have control or emotional attachment to is an easy way to give your assistant a quick win and an easy way to make an impression and build that trust to start. And then I think from there it’s an evolution and it grows. I think you sit in the seat of naturally giving trust, even when it feels unnatural to you. If you can’t relinquish and give trust to your assistant and more and more over time, you will find yourself in a place where you’re unable to leverage this relationship and you’re kind of become the lid on your own capacity. I think being able to trust your assistant is really important for the success of this relationship.

Melissa Lawrence:

Definitely. That’s really good Tricia. From my side as the assistant, I think trust is built within the relationship. Of course from executing on my responsibilities and deliverables and communication, all of those things. But also for me, by being really deliberate about finding ways to show you that I care about you as a person. Asking after a busy day, how I can help you wrap up so that you can finish up early or following up after an important meeting to ask how it went. Things like that, that really help you to see that I have your best interest in mind, I think really helps to develop that trust.

Kate Sawtelle:

And Showing that you’re in their corner. That’s ultimately our goal. We want you guys to succeed because if you guys succeed, we succeed. It’s a two way street and so thankfully we have a culture here that trust is just automatically given at the get go, which is not usual, but very refreshing. Knowing that walking into the situation of, when you say that you don’t actually believe it, because you have history with other places is where that’s not the case. But then after one week, two weeks, a month, they’re like, oh, they really mean that they’re going to trust you from the start. That’s also very empowering.

Ian Cron :

Yeah. And you know what’s so interesting is that a lot of times there are certain numbers that people don’t associate with leadership and that’s a shame because it’s not true. I can name you great leaders of every single type. Corporate leaders, political leaders, movement leaders, whatever. People look at nines and they go, well, they’re kind of slow going people. They don’t right. The best American presidents have all been nines. I’m always telling people, be careful about stereotyping. This is a typing system, not a stereotyping system. A healthy nine can lead the free world literally.

Tricia Sciortino:

Wow. That’s amazing.

Lisa Zeeveld:

It’s been really eyeopening because I think that I’ve spent a lot of time reading about the Enneagram, but it was more personal. I really like how you flip this because as I said a couple of times now, I’m thinking of people on our team and people I work with and really being able to see their unique contributions and how important it is I would think as a leadership team, that if you have an opportunity to build that, some of us were kind of put into a team and then we figured out what the numbers were. But would you recommend that if you have an opportunity to build a team and have some diversity in the types that there’s value in that?

Ian Cron :

You know, it’s interesting. I have HR people all the time say to me, “I’m going to use the enneagram for hiring” and I’ll go tap the breaks. Hold on a second. First of all, I always tell people, you hire for character first. Any one of these numbers could be a crook so hire for character first. Then hire for competency. Can they actually do the job. Then I always say, hire for self-awareness. And as part of that, does the person know themselves and know how to self-regulate? Can they collaborate? Can they be inclusive? Can they bring out the best in others? And then I say just don’t think to yourself, oh, we’re missing a three or we’re missing a five. We got to hire that. That’s a little shortsighted.

Ian Cron :

It has to be one day data point among others. Sometimes people get so enamored with the Enneagram that they think it’s the genie answer immediately to all things. And I’m like, be careful. It’s not that. The other thing is, it’s industry dependent. I’ve worked with companies where it was all threes and eights in, let’s say senior leadership and I’ve looked at what they do. I look how they get along and I think they don’t need a four. If they need a four one day, they can get a consultant who’s a four. They can bring somebody in to bring the four perspective. They don’t necessarily have to spend the money and assert the energy to find a four. If they’re making nuts and bolts or doing construction stuff where they don’t need a four, they can use an architect who use a four.

Ian Cron :

They make great fours. They make phenomenal architects. Was listening to a podcast the other day about this guy that designed the Memorial for the 9/11 Memorial. I’m thinking, this guy’s a four, even though he is an engineer, people go, that’s a stereotype. Can a four be an engineer? Absolutely. But his artistic vision, the artistic vision, he had the aesthetic vision he had for that Memorial, the philosophy, the spirituality of that Memorial, it’s pure four. Just pure four stuff going on. So again, you can hire that if you need to outside temporarily for a consultant. It just depends on the company. Some companies don’t need the representation of certain types.

Tricia Sciortino:

If you are anything like me, then keeping up with the daily tasks of AR AP and account reconciliation are not your favorite things, but you also know how necessary and important it is. The good news is it doesn’t have to be your thing anymore. Belay can help.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Numbers are totally my thing, Tricia and thankfully numbers are our Belay bookkeepers thing too. Our sponsor Belay believes you deserve top notch bookkeepers to produce balance sheets, pay bills, reconcile bank and credit card statements and monthly reports to keep you up to date on the numbers of your organization. Whether you’re a church, nonprofit or business, they have the right people ready to help. Talk to their team today and never lose sleep over your financials again. Get started by visiting belaysolutions.com/services/bookkeepers today.

Lisa Zeeveld:

And you know, I think it’s one of those it’s like, how do you know when it’s okay to say no? Especially when it comes around obligation or the disappointment. I think FOMO is probably a little bit easier to say no, you just got to convince yourself it’ll be fine. But I think when it revolves around relationships with people or your livelihood, then it’s a lot hard or to say no. I mean, when do you know personally when to say no, how do you gauge that?

Tricia Sciortino:

For me, I can recognize in myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed. In other words, I have taken on too many things, whether it’s personally, professionally, whatever the circumstance may be. Sometimes it’s a variety of reasons. But like for work, for example, where I’ve sat in too many meetings or I agreed to participate in too many things or projects or a CEO represent Belay at a podcast or an event and I’ve kind of over committed myself, I really do feel that physically. I notice myself, I get migraines, I get bad headaches, I don’t sleep well. It physically manifests in me when I’m overwhelmed or overworked or over scheduled. For years I just kind of pushed through and I was like telling myself, suck it up butter cup, just keep on going.

Tricia Sciortino:

But the older I get, the more I realize I don’t want to feel like crap. I don’t want to lose sleep. I don’t want to have a headache because I’ve done too much today. I really forced myself to put in boundaries for myself. And so that is the first thing I’ve done to help me say no. I only have a finite number of hours in my day and in my week and in my month and there are things that I must fit in there. My family, my kids, being a mom, dinner time. First and foremost, laying the foundation of being a present parent, then filtering in all my obligations at work that are truly the obligations. All of my team 101s, Belay leadership, vision casting, all the things I must do. And then honestly, everything else is a considered no, for me at that point

Lisa Zeeveld:

Kind of sounds like an ideal week almost.

Tricia Sciortino:

And so that’s how I frame it up as. I do. I kind of say if all things are perfect in the world, this is what my week would look like. And my assistant has that. I practice following what is an ideal scenario as much as possible. I get better at it the more I practice it. It’s kind of like a snowball. When you start saying no and actually realize if you say no kindly, people actually don’t get mad at you. People are actually really understanding. Then you learn to do it more and then again, and it almost becomes very freeing.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Well, the other thing too that I want to mention is a lot of times, if you have remote employees, what we hear is that it is a lot harder to get acclimated and to get used to working remotely and it can be a little bit more difficult to lead. What I always remind every time I get to talk with a new employee is that a traditional brick and mortar, they will tell you it takes about 90 days to get onboarded and to really feel like you know your job when you’re working remote, that can be up to six months because there is something that is lost a little bit in remote. And so you just want to add what we like to call grace. You want to give a little bit of extra grace during that time so they can really understand, like you said, Tricia, the why, the vision of the organization, the mission and those guiding principles along with just the role itself

Krisha Buehler:

Absolutely. You can’t just walk around the corner to the next cube or office and say, I have a question. One of the other things I feel like we’ve done a really good job is creating a culture of just people being very supportive and available. One of the things that I get from new employees is I can’t believe how willing everybody is to help. How available everybody is. That would be another thing. If you have a team or if it’s just you yourself, it’s going to take a little bit more on your part and your team’s part to do this virtually. Make yourself available. Don’t make it feel like a burden for somebody who’s new, trying to figure it out. That has been, I think a really definitive win for us is the supportive collaborative culture that we have embracing new employees. I think we always remember when it was our first day.

Tricia Sciortino:

The same goes for our clients. People come to Belay for us to place them with virtual assistants, bookkeepers and web specialists. I think because we’re helping support that hire for them, they think that training and their responsibility to train somehow obsolete. Guys, I’m here to tell you’re wrong. We may find you great talent. But at the end of the day, the training of the people you work with, whether our contractor or an employee or through an agency like us, it’s on you as the leader. Your teammate will only be as good as the investment you put into them. Hiring people takes time on the front end and on the back end. It takes time to bring them on, find the right person and there’s a whole lot of time and an investment really that goes into your new hire to make sure they are trained, they have resources, people are available to answer their questions so they do feel support welcomed, and they can be super successful. I feel like that is the big takeaway.

Lisa Zeeveld:

As leaders, how are you staying productive with so much more yet to do? Depending upon your personalities style, it’s even easier to become more of a, dare I say that, a micromanager, and that’s what we don’t want to do because you start to lose productivity. When you feel like you’ve got to be in all the tiny little details over and over again. I know you felt that T right?

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes. I mean, typical control freak leadership tendency says when we are feeling pressure to do more, we have a tendency to drag ourselves down into the weeds we like to call them over here. We can easily as leaders when there’s a lot going on inside our organization feel pulled down into things maybe we didn’t get involved with before because we think we’re trying to help. We’re trying to serve our team, but we’re serving nobody well because then end up at a place where we are, we’re a micromanaging, we’re running out of hours in our day. We’re not being productive and our team doesn’t like to feel like they’re being micromanaged.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right. Yeah. The whole idea is that you’re going to hire adults and adults should know that they have a job to do and they should do that job very, very well. When we feel like we’re over scheduled or we have too much on our plate, it really has the opposite effect on our team members because they feel like they’re doing something wrong and ultimately that makes them less productive and then they trust us less too, which doesn’t feel good.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes. That’s the unfortunate part about micromanaging is that it has the unfortunate opportunity to break relational capital instead of build it, or to your point, lead to distrust or an employee thinking maybe they’re not doing something right or correct. You’re all in their biz and they’re wondering why you’re in their business. They must think I’m not doing my job. when really we’re just in this frenzy of there’s so much going on, I got to get in there and help the team because there’s so much to do. But what we know to be true is that although the tendency might be to step down into the weeds and we find ourselves there often is, really being able to take the step back and go, okay, what is it that I’m here to do as the leader or executive of this team and really remind yourself that you’re hurting potentially yourself and other people in the process. Yourself in that burnout, trying to take on too much and getting scattered and losing productive behavior, is only going to negatively affect you as a person. Let alone the people that are around you.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right. And growth means that the leader needs to start thinking strategically and you can’t think strategically if you’re in the weeds because you’re not able to lift up your head. In a time of massive growth, you have got to start planning for the next season ahead. Perhaps in your business, that’s only 12 months out. Maybe it’s five years out, but you have to remember that yes, there’s a lot going on, but it’s going to continue to be that way and you have to set yourself up for future growth and future success. Strategy’s going to be more important now than ever.

Lisa Zeeveld:

What a fun look back and what an amazing journey this past year has been. I hope you are enjoying the One Next Step as much as we are. If you haven’t already, we would love for you to subscribe to the podcast. So you never miss an episode.

Tricia Sciortino:

Thank you for listening to us throughout 2021. What a year. Thanks to our guests for generously sharing their time and wisdom with us and thank you to our team for their hard work in bringing this podcast to you every week. Thank you for joining us. Join us next week for more practical tips and actionable tools to advance your business. One step at a time.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Start by making today count.

Lisa Zeeveld:

The most important aspect of keeping your business afloat is how you manage your finances. However, not every startup and small business can afford to make the leap of hiring a CFO. Don’t miss next week’s masterclass when Tricia and I will talk all about what tools are essential for keeping your finances in order so you can scale your business. Here’s a snippet of our conversation!

Lisa Zeeveld:

I think sometimes when you start to look for different tools, you can be enamored by all the features and functionality. I know there’s some really large expense reporting applications out there that do sound very very sexy, but they would be more for companies that have a lot of travel. You know for me the lesson in there is don’t use something just because there’s another competitor that uses it, or you’ve got a friend who’s got a different business. Make sure the tool is the right size for you and what you’re trying to do in the moment

Speaker 1:

Thanks for listening to One Next Step. Be sure to subscribe on Apple podcasts or follow us on Spotify. Then join us next time for more practical business tips and tools to help you get more done, grow your business and lead your team with confidence. For more episodes, show notes and helpful resources. Visit Onenextsteppodcast.com.

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