Advocating for yourself in a Chief of Staff role panel at the Chief of Staff Summit.
Moderated by: Vivian Chen Founder & CEO at Rise
-Laurie Benezra - Arron Trusted Advisor & Executive Coach to senior leaders, entrepreneurs and Chiefs of Staff
-Annie Yu Chief of Staff at Vox Media
-Lauren Legette Chief Of Staff at Google
Note: please see the following summary of the core ideas from this conversation at the Summit. We did our best to clarify the ideas for you. Please refer to the video for specific details, ideas, and context.
On belonging in the workplace:
Annie: I recognize that I'm not always the first person, people might go talk to you just to catch-up. And I'm not trying to be everyone's friends. But I understand that catching-up is so crucial to relationship building that lends itself to trust, and lends itself to more opportunity.
Lauren: One thing that I have tried to be intentional about is acknowledging maybe when those feelings are in the room, and acknowledging that we all bring differences and experiences and skills to the table, and calling those in and encouraging others to acknowledge maybe whatever emotions are feeling, particularly with new teams coming together. I think often it's important to call that out at the beginning of the working dynamics.
Laurie: Speak yourself into the room
What does advocacy mean to you?
Lauren: communicating your needs… Someone gave me really great advice when I became a Chief of Staff the first time really early on they said, “the role is the role but everything above and beyond that is what you make it.” I think advocacy looks like being super clear on what you want out of this experience, and calling that in pretty early on and holding your manager accountable of helping you get there. But also making sure that everyone is sort of clear on what those goals and aspirations sort of look like so that you're each day making that a part of the work that you do.
Annie: what I recognize I have more trouble advocating for is anything that is a little bit more personal
Lauren: The need to to advocate for myself on the personal level has definitely shifted in a remote world.
On saying no:
Annie: Before I get to a “no”, I always try to understand what we're trying to solve and what solution we could put toward it. There are some things though that are a no. And then when it comes to that I try to assess in terms of whoever I'm working with, and my Chief of Staff capacity, who is the best person to say no? is that me? Or is that my boss? our chief revenue officer?
Laurie: “no is not a bad word. And no is a complete sentence.”
On advocating yourself remotely vs in-person:
Lauren: What I have focused on is starting every conversation with ensuring that people have an opportunity to get to know me, get to know me on a personal level, and get to know who I am outside of my role, because I think it creates a space and an opportunity where I be authentically myself, show up authentically who I am on the job, but then also allows me to invite in opportunities where I can advocate for myself.
Laurie: create spaces for connection. slow down, create meaningful connection, and literally be with people
Annie: “be the culture that you want to see”
Lauren: “connections before content”
Annie: When we talk about self-advocacy, I think a part of it is really just believing in yourself and having confidence.
Lauren: I think a lot of times people are so focused on the people that report into them, which of course, is important to invest and grow the people that sort of roll up through your team. But sometimes we don't think enough about our peer set and how driving alignment and true partnership across our peer set is really better for the organization.