A few months ago, we were in another town and wanted to learn more about the demographics of the area.  As I searched, I ran across a job posting that caught my attention:  THICK SKINNED C LEVEL EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT.  We always, always advise anyone we work with who has an open position to fill to analyze the role, the responsibilities, and the needs of a department or organization when looking to hire.  Hiring the right person, the first time just makes sense.  I think all leaders, all human resource managers, and all employees would agree with that.

The problem I have is someone had to write this job post.  Someone thought through the needs of the position, the organization, even the CEO this new hire would report to.  What someone clearly overlooked, whether intentional or not, is that the CEO has some weaknesses that need to be addressed.

As I reflected on the job post, I could only conclude that the reason they specifically mentioned applicant be “thick-skinned” is that this particular role has had previous employees file complaints or resign due to whatever behaviors they are exposed to that require them to be “thick-skinned”.  Here is where I have a problem.  This is where I continue to struggle to this day.  This “thick-skinned” description irritated me to depths I can’t even describe, and yet none of it even affects me directly.

This job post is what prompted me to write today’s blog.  I can’t count the times we write about or talk in class about knowing your strengths and weaknesses.  We encourage people to take time away from it all – the phones, devices, and interruptions and just self-reflect.  We post about it on social media.  We suggest participating in a 360 Assessment to get an idea of areas you are strong, and areas you could further develop.  You can get input by asking people.  It’s just that simple.  Regardless of position/title, everyone should be interested in being the best version of themselves they can be. 

We are all, and should be, a work in progress.  From the beginning to the very end of our careers we need to develop new skills, enhance current skills, and push ourselves to overcome any weaknesses that hold us back from being the best version of ourselves we can be.  Opportunities for development can be found in many ways, but just to name a few:

  • Formal Classes/Training/Continuing Education
  • Mentorship/Apprenticeship
  • Books
  • Professional Groups/Associations
  • Formal Personal Coaching

If this CEO was being honest to him-or-herself they would see the need for change, for development of their skills, and if he/she cared about the people who worked for him/her, this person would commit to finding ways to improve.  Until that happens, I am confident the “thick-skinned” position will be a revolving door of abused and underappreciated people.

Now think bigger.  Consider how having or allowing this type of behavior can indirectly impact an organization.  Those afflicted people have their own sphere of influence, and I am confident they will share some of their experiences with people in their circle.  You can imagine how that can, and probably will, affect business long term, or how it will influence talented people from applying for positions at that particular organization.

Self-reflection begins your development journey.  Look through your calendar and commit one half hour this week.  Organize the conversations and the interactions you’ve had.  Does anything stand out that you could have handled better?  Pay attention to your thoughts to get a clearer picture of where you are now and where you’d like to be in the future.  Set yourself some goals for improvements and write an action plan with steps on how you’ll get there.  Your employees will notice, and you will appreciate the investment you make in your future self.

To help others, feel free to comment things you do to help with self-reflection or resources you have for development.  We can learn from one another and grow as a community.

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