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A good personal assistant is a gift. Such a PA is one of the most important assets of a manager as she represents the image the manager wishes to project.
Typically, the PA has to be refined, attractive and charming, but at the same time assertive and confident.
She has to dress well, but appropriately. She needs to recognise grey areas in her manager’s make-up, and unobtrusively and creatively counter these.
She should acquire the ability to think globally about issues (and not be confined by her job description). She has to both protect and make things easier for the manager.
In addition, she has to be trustworthy and act in a moral and ethical manner, in accordance with the organisation’s vision and mission.
The PA’s work also extends to the manager’s private life.
She needs the insight to make the manager’s spouse feel secure and relaxed – that he/she is the only one in the manager’s life.
She therefore has to act intelligently in the moment. And this is exactly what it means to be emotionally intelligent (EI).
Typical behaviours exemplified by individuals with higher levels of EI include a well-developed impulse control (look before you leap); persistence (seeing things through despite obstacles); zeal and motivation (inspiring self and others); social deftness (the ability to negotiate successfully in social situations); and appropriate empathy.
All of these are skills that may be acquired or enhanced as part of training in emotional intelligence.
Plasticity in the brain allows for learning and the acquiring of new skills. However, change is brought about by knowledge and practice.
There is no quick fix.
A new or enhanced skill is not acquired by the flick of a switch, but rather by determination and commitment. The fruit that may be reaped from this, however, is tremendous.
People moving briskly up the corporate ladder typically developed the ability to leverage employees’ creativity, energy and dedication by being emotionally intelligent.
Interested? Then why not consider training in this area.
l Dr Annette Prins is section head of staff at the University of the Free State.
She will be one of the main speakers at the Executive PA Seminar 2012 at the Hilton Hotel on June 14.
Zelda la Grange, former executive PA to Nelson Mandela and spokeswoman for the Nelson Mandela Foundation; Brenda Khambule, the owner of 10oneHUNDRED Image and Style; and Debbie Craig, owner of Catalyst Consulting, will be the keynote speakers
l For more information, contact Magdeline Matlatse at 011 706 6009 or firstname.lastname@example.org