Making the Case for Effective Assistants
From Calendar Keepers to Extended Brains
The Brief Case 📚→ 💼 → 📊 →📈
In The Organized Mind, Daniel J. Levitin recalls meeting with Jimmy Carter when Carter was campaigning for the United States Presidency: “[Carter] spoke as though we had all the time in the world. At one point, an aide came to take him off to the next person he needed to meet. Free from having to decide when the meeting would end, or any other mundane care, really, President Carter could let go of those inner nagging voices and be there.”
We are channeling Levitin (channeling Carter) in part to underline a simple, three-part reminder for leaders at or near the top of an organization: (1) They should be doing more of what they are uniquely good at; (2) they should be doing less of what distracts from what they are uniquely good at; and (3) what they are uniquely good at should be aligned with the organization’s goals and needs.
Ongoing alignment of this kind requires effective approaches and systems. For that reason, we are going to offer a vision for modern executive assistants. When effective, an assistant’s relationship with a school executive (i.e., leader) should generate approaches and systems that multiply the skills and talents of that executive, on behalf of the school. It is possible — and profitable — for these often backstage players to not only schedule the calendars of school leaders, but also to extend their capacities.
📚 The Learning Case for Effective Assistants
In the last nine months alone, many of the Heads of School that we know have had to get “up to speed” in ways both predictable (ongoing learning about their school’s financial picture, ongoing learning about diversity and inclusivity, etc.) and unpredictable (COVID surges, town ordinances with which they suddenly had to grapple, etc.). During such moments, if they cannot learn — well and quickly — then they cannot lead.