Kill Your Admin.
Let’s be clear: no one is recommending homicide, bloodshed, permanently dispatching, offing, taking out, or issuing a one-way ticket to buying the farm. (Legal issues covered? Good. Let’s move on.)
But whether you call that teammate an administrative assistant, secretary, your right-hand, or half your brain, it’s time to get rid of ’em.
That’s because in our jobs, every single one of us handle administrative tasks as a matter of course. And every single one of us lead in some way as a matter of course.
A practical example: the last two times I’ve added staff to my team, I just so happened to hire for two empty positions at the same time. The organizational blank slate forced me to reckon with what kind of team I wanted to build: did I want to be a delegator to doers, or did I want to be a developer of leaders?
I ended up creating one job description that served as a general overview for all of our roles. I made it clear to the candidates that their job description would absolutely change within the first couple of months, but that everything was negotiable before we printed the final copy. And for the first few weeks of new hire onboarding, we talked at length about who was good at what, who had a passion for what, and who was better at something than someone else.
And here’s what we discovered: there were some administrative tasks that one person on our team was great at. Another person handled a different side of the administration really well. And as for me? There’s a lot of admin stuff that I geek out on and would be sad if I gave it all up. So, since we all handled administrative tasks, we struck the administrative title.
Now to be clear, I’m not implying that admins can’t be leaders if their title has “admin” in it. That’s just silly. The point is that we should never hand off every administrative task to one person. Rather, we should shape their role based on their strengths.
And therein lies the problem of relegating people to only administrative duties: we handicap potential leadership. Every person on your team should be viewed as a leader. To do otherwise may make them think that there’s a limit on how they’re allowed to lead, what they’re able to implement, and ideas they’re encouraged to bring to the table.
Again: to be clear, not everyone feels cut out to be a leader. They may feel far more comfortable to stay in the lane they were hired for. But as a leader, we should encourage others to find their voice. Nudge when necessary. But let them serve as they feel wired to do so.
So kill your admin (figuratively, because again: legal issues). And birth a leader in their place.