Administrative professionals generally do a great job of providing the support managers and supervisors need to succeed. They are adaptable, insightful and diligent, even in less-than-ideal circumstances. But the relationship between an office leader and his or her administrative professional is a two-way street. If you’re a supervisor, manager or executive, fostering certain qualities of a leader can help your office team thrive.
In my four previous posts, I used the Benchmarking Survey from the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) for insights about how administrative professionals are adept at technology and management; ways they can get the salaries they deserve; the importance of professional development; and why they need cutting-edge technology. Now it’s time to turn our attention to the leaders they support.
Office supervisors, managers or executives can have a significant impact on the success of their administrative professionals. Having a good relationship with leadership ranks only slightly below compensation when administrative professionals are asked to define the qualities of a great workplace, according to IAAP’s survey. These working relationships are becoming more important as the economy improves. Salary and benefits had a much wider lead over relationships when administrative professionals were asked the same question in 2009 and 2011, during the recession.
Given their value to employees, it’s important to identify the most effective leadership traits. Here are the three top qualities of an effective leader, identified by administrative professionals surveyed:
1. Effective communicator
This is by far the top choice, marked as the most important of leadership traits by twice as many benchmarking survey respondents compared to any other option. Great leaders are masters of verbal and written communication. They are also culturally fluent and know how to interact with people from a wide variety of backgrounds. The good news is that 88 percent of administrative professionals are at least somewhat satisfied with their leaders’ communication skills.
Find out more about how being an effective leader should be a cornerstone of your employee retention strategy, in Robert Half's advice library for managers.
2. Approachable and inspiring
This quality was a tie for first place. Great leaders genuinely embrace an open-door policy. Employees can be transparent about issues at work and know that they won’t be punished for their honesty. Effective leaders also may have a challenging vision for their office team, but it’s achievable and straightforward. They know where they need to go and how to get there.
3. Clear direction
Also among the top leadership traits is being well organized and very clear about expectations, procedures, guidelines and measurements. Great leaders actively collaborate with their team to improve workflow. They don’t just leave it to their office support to clean up their messes, whether literal or metaphorical.
Administrative professionals work hard every day to help their supervisors, managers and executives succeed. They are often behind the scenes and unheralded. Developing and practicing these valued qualities of a leader can go a long way toward supporting the office heroes who make leaders look good.
Learn how your actions as a manager can play a role in retaining your best people. Check out Losing Your Best Admins? 5 Ways to Bolster Employee Retention.