Top 10 Skills of a Great Executive Assistant
You might think that executive assistants only need to be able to use a computer, answer a phone, and manage a schedule to succeed. On the contrary; executive assistants are often looked upon as an extension of an executive, acting on his or her behalf, and as such need to bring a whole host of other skills to their roles when working for a person at an executive-level or C-suite position. Do you have what it takes to perform in this powerful role? Compare your skills to the list of top 10 critical skills below that stellar executive assistants bring to the table:
- Physical and mental organization. You quickly move every piece of paper that lands on your desk to a color-coded file, you store your passwords in a secure location, and you categorize your emails by topic. Yet, when your executive asks you what’s next on his schedule, you’re at a loss for words. A great executive assistant not only physically organizes, but also mentally organizes by doing things like reviewing the next day’s schedule the night before or reading emails thoroughly so important information is easily recalled.
- Maintain confidentiality. As an executive assistant, you have access to privileged company information, and your job is to guard that information. Period. You know that leaking information, no matter what the motivation, can damage both your reputation and that of the executive you support.
- Have a “can-do” attitude. Yes, wrapping birthday presents or bringing a car in for service can be part of the job duty repertoire, and that’s okay because, unless the request is against the law or unethical, a great executive assistant never says, “That’s not my job.”
- Anticipate needs. Your executive has a meeting with a client in his office at noon. If you excel at anticipating needs, you’ll inquire about lunch (Will they eat in or go out? Are there any food allergies?) and ensure your executive has any meeting-related documents ahead of time.
- Switch gears easily/multi-task. You can go from drafting a shareholder letter to coordinating a 10-day trip overseas in the blink of an eye. Juggling multiple tasks at the same time is an old hat for you, and you can easily switch from performing one task to another while staying cool under pressure.
- Act the role of gatekeeper. Everyone is clamoring for your executive’s time and attention, from HR to outside salespeople. As executive assistant, you are the person who ensures that only those phone calls, emails, or meetings get through that meet the goals of the executive or the organization.
- Work as a team. Sometimes it takes a village to ensure that: 1. your executive gets to the airport on time; 2. he or she is armed with a working laptop; and 3. that the laptop contains a presentation that will knock the socks off a potential client. The ability to work well with others will only make your own job easier.
- Communicator extraordinaire. Whether a shareholder is expressing dissatisfaction or an important luncheon has been canceled, you are relied upon to communicate anything important and relevant to your executive. You also excel at communicating with others on your executive’s behalf (and you use discretion and good judgment when doing so).
- Take professionalism seriously. You are considered a “consummate professional” in all aspects of your job: you use your executive’s dress code as your example; you watch your alcohol intake whenever you are at a work-related event, and you are respectful of everyone from the CFO to the security guard.
- Master of technology. You can handle anything from installing a print driver on a computer to fixing a paper jam in the copier (and if that means you know who to call to get that done quickly, you can still consider yourself a master of technology).
Most importantly, the executive assistant and executive personalities must mesh, which is often a deal-breaker in the selection process. An executive assistant position can be an exciting and rewarding position. Want to see if you qualify? Contact us; we just might have an interesting opportunity waiting for you.