Executive assistants have undergone a metamorphosis over the years from humble beginnings to individuals who are required to perform demanding roles for their bosses including prepare complicated executive reports, make presentations, attend meetings and even make strategic contributions to the company’s growth.
This has made the executive assistant more visible and the position much more demanding. But also it means that there is an increased demand for effective executive assistants (for executive assistant courses make sure to check out Souters Training)
Understand Business Strategy
One of the key functions of any senior executive is the ability to formulate and deliver business strategy. To do this, they need to get support from the team around them and executive assistants make an integral part of this team.
Therefore the executive assistant needs to be able to speak the language of senior management and that means understanding business strategy. This will not just make it easier for senior executives to do their jobs, but it will also make the assistant more valuable to the company.
Understand Wider Business Issues
The executive assistant is essentially the eyes and ears of the organization. Executive assistants who can communicate across the organization will function much more effectively in this role.
Yet doing that essentially requires that the assistant have a general understanding of not just the company’s or their boss’s objectives but wider business issues and how they relate to the company. If nothing else, this will make it easier for them to prioritize their daily tasks based on the most important issues.
Operate Efficiently and Effectively
Being an executive assistant is a very demanding multi-role job that requires someone who is organized and self-motivated. One of the characteristics an executive assistant must demonstrate is efficiency in the day to day tasks assigned to them. But they must also be effective.
Efficiency is getting the job done on time and while this is important, it is not nearly as important as effectiveness which is getting the jobs done correctly. So while your boss may need to be flying at a certain time, the correct scheduling wouldn’t help if they are carrying the wrong report to an overseas meeting.
Be a Natural problem Solver
An effective and efficient executive assistant realizes that sometimes there may be conflicting priorities in their boss’ schedule. A unique problem like this one requires a natural problem solver.
You have to be able to think on your feet and offer a spur of the moment solution that offers a satisfactory resolution to both problems. Sometimes that may mean involving others in the problem-solving process which involves adequate communication where you listen to each aggrieved party and come up with a solution.
Be a Rigorous Planner
Planning is one the most important aspects of being an executive assistant. If an executive assistant was not organized, they would find their work day highly stressful. After all, it is their job to organize their boss’s schedule. Throughout the day an executive assistant is not just planning their own work but their boss’s as well and considering they work for decision makers in the company, poor planning skills will likely affect the whole company.
Be an Influencer
A good executive assistant will also be able to know when to use some or all of the key influencing tactics in an organization. These include consultation, rational persuasion, coalition, ingratiation, upwards appeal and pressure. Using one or a combination of these key tools can produce great results depending on the issue at hand.