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Intimidated by the boss's title?

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Question: “I just started as the executive assistant to the senior vice president. I have administrative assistant experience, but this is my first time being an executive assistant. When I sit down on a one-on-one meeting with the boss, I feel really tense and can’t seem to think straight. I don’t say a whole lot because I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing. He is a very nice guy, but I just feel intimidated by his title. How can I feel more comfortable around him?” — Anonymous 

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Tawney May 22, 2009 at 2:40 pm

First off, you need to remember, you were selected for this job for a reason – that you have the skill set and the professionalism to succeed. Self-confidence speaks loads about a person and it sounds like you just need to believe in yourself. You are a capable, smart person and will be instrumental in your VP’s success – keep telling yourself that. He puts his pants on the same as everyone else – Gamehen is right about just seeing him as a person. You’ll do great!


Jennifer May 22, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Let go of the title piece..that seems to be the part that feels overwhelming. Can you do the work? I teach workshops to assistants and my starter line is, “Your job is to make your boss look good all the time”. Ask questions as everyone has a different management style and your job is to find his and flow with it. Next meeting, let him know your desire to make him look good at the time and until you find your rhythm with him, you’ll need his feedback. In the meantime, make sure you have regular meetings, you are a team and the best partnership comes from good communication.


gamehen May 22, 2009 at 2:24 pm

I am the Exec. Admin. to the General Manager of our company. Fortunately I have a wonderful boss and have never felt intimidated. But, I work with several other Exec. Admins who are in your place – first time working for an executive. I have told each of them that you have to see your boss a person. When I meet with mine, I always take pen and pad. If I have time prior to the meeting, I jot down the items I would like to cover. I also have the pad/pen ready for any items that I have to follow up on. I also take my calendar with me to the meeting. This way, if he schedules anything I haven’t added to the calendar, I have the opportunity to add that to his schedule. The bottom line for me is to be prepared! Go in there with your mind set to the idea that you are prepared. He hired you because he saw something in you he like and your skill set was what he needed for the position. Confidence is something that time resolves between Admin and Exec. and I think you probably have to give yourself time. I also think an occasional lunch together is great for learning one another. You might suggest that on a regular basis. It allows you to talk of other things besides work and get to know each other – you might offer to treat! Good luck!


Diane Johnson-Hung May 22, 2009 at 2:21 pm

It sounds like your new boss is a great guy. Some time when you catch him alone, let him know that. He might be able to help you get to know him a little better and him to get to know you a little better.

If you goof a little later (and you will), so what? Tell him you goofed and how you intend to fix it. He’ll respect you more for admitting it rather than hiding it.

What helps me when I’m working with others of similar titles is to know that outside of the building no one would know he or she holds that office. They are just another person.


Janet May 22, 2009 at 2:19 pm

First of all, breath and remember you’re both professionals at what you do. Focus on what the purpose of your meeting with him/her is and really listen to what’s being said. Take notes and think about how you can help and anticipate what his/her needs may be or may develop relative to the topic being discussed. Offer suggestions and ask questions. If you need to, reiterate what you think you’re being asked to do. You’ll do great!


Monica May 22, 2009 at 2:16 pm

I am an Executive Assistant to the Chairman so I understand how you feel. Fortunately for me, I see him as a person not his title. We have a great business relationship. You have to look at it like this: You are qualified for this job or they wouldn’t have hired you. You have the skills to do your job so no matter who you work for, or their title, you will do the job they hired you to do. To get more comfortable around your boss, sometimes a lunch out of the office is good so you can get to know him as a person, not just a boss. We try to do this every few months to get to know one another and not have the pressure of work around us. You have to meet with them one-on-one to get to understand them as a person and how they work. Good luck!!


ANON May 22, 2009 at 2:13 pm

First thing you need to do is to get to know him on a personal level. Wife, kids, likes, dislikes….it will make you feel a lot more comfortable.


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