As any busy executive will tell you; an excellent Executive Assistant is worth their weight in gold. But what makes a great Executive Assistant in today’s ever-changing business world?
4 MINUTE READ
As part of our ongoing series on the critical skills and qualities required for different roles that we place in the commercial sector, we’ve come up with a list of some of the top talents and attributes of a successful Executive Assistant which we have identified over the last three decades recruiting at this level for our Clients.
They Exude Confidence and Professional Authority.
An Executive Assistant is of course the direct representative of the Executive and therefore must present themselves professionally in a way that benefits the executive’s standing, the company and employer brand.
This goes far past dressing well, and extends into being well-spoken, well-informed, and putting people at ease as a host.
Their Ability to Anticipate is Legendary.
The ability to predict and plan the needs of the Executive is considered the number one determinant of whether an EA is good at their job. Exceptional EA’s anticipate requests, needs, and potential problems often before their boss has even considered them!
They are Keen and Active Networkers.
The modern-day EA is extremely keen to network with potential Client contacts and also like-minded colleagues to develop their skills and discuss challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. The Leeds-based PA Hub operating in Leeds and Liverpool, for whom Lucy Walker Recruitment has previously sponsored their Annual Awards, and the Manchester-based PA Network are two fantastic organisations that facilitate this and champion the cause of the EA/PA.
They are Adaptable and Eminently Unflappable.
No two days in an EA’s world are ever the same. A competent EA can switch effortlessly between writing reports, balancing clashes in the Executive’s schedule, to planning the executive’s flights or a company event. When problems arise, a great EA rises to the challenge and does not display stress outwardly.
They Genuinely Love Technology and Innovation
An EA is immersed in technology, and that technology is always changing. Between diary planners and project management tools, office software and equipment, an EA must not only be entirely competent across the tools they use daily, but be ready to switch to an alternative at any moment.
They Value Being a Team Player.
An EA who feels separate from the team will not—cannot—deliver exceptional service to their executive. A strong EA not only sees themselves in partnership with the executive but must collaborate with every member of the team, understanding instinctively that each person in the organisation feeds into the success of the executive.
They Listen and Learn.
An EA who wants to do all the talking and feels they know it all will not last long. An EA must be the eyes and ears of the executive at all times, which often means shutting up, listening, and being alert to potential issues, conflicts, and any new bit of information that may be helpful to the executive.
An EA who loves to learn will succeed, as they gather more information about the business and become more confident at taking initiative on behalf of the executive and filtering the critical communication points.
They Are Proactive with Good Instincts
This is not a job for submissive people who naturally hang back and wait to be told what to do. A great EA is resourceful, innovative, and proactive, thinks independently and doesn’t need much supervision or direction.
A good EA is a natural decision-maker, with an ability to think under pressure and display good judgement. Their logical, analytical approach leads them to assess risks carefully, consider different options and decide on a sound course of action.
They Write Well.
An EA spends a great deal of their time writing reports, memos, letters, and emails. As the assistant represents the executive and the company, they must display clear, concise and correct writing skills. They don’t need to be Hemingway, but their writing must be professional in tone and easy to understand.
They are Superbly Organised.
A top EA isn’t just organised; they’re hyper-organised. They’re great time managers, scouring their own work patterns for any inefficiencies while managing their executive’s diary with consummate skill. Only this high level of organisation allows them to be ready to anticipate requests and problems, whilst still having time in the day for the competing demands of the role.
They are Natural Communicators.
We’ve already mentioned the importance of listening to an EA’s success. But when it comes to communication, an EA displays calm confidence and a clear speaking style that ensures everyone understands what he or she must do, and when he or she needs to do it by. They’re also experts at speaking to different types of people, from the most junior intern to the high profile CEO, as well as displaying cultural understanding with international clients.
They Display High Levels of Loyalty and Discretion.
A top EA won’t always agree with their executive’s decisions, and they almost certainly won’t love being called away from their family holiday to avert a crisis at work. But their steadfast loyalty to the executive and their belief in the importance of the working partnership will ensure that they continue to perform at their best. They’re also famously discreet, meaning that the executive knows they can trust the EA with the confidential information they need to do their job at the highest level.
Building your skills and experience to become a great EA is something to aspire to. You’ll not only be able to work in partnership with a successful leader in your organisation, but you’ll become a top commodity in your field!
So, What Next?
Skilled Executive Assistants are highly sought after.
We frequently work on several exclusive EA assignments which aren't advertised due to the confidential nature of the roles, which is why we work actively to build up a comprehensive network of EA's here at Lucy Walker Recruitment.
If you’re an EA looking for career progression or an Employer looking for a top candidate to fill an Executive Assistants role at your Company, why not schedule in a highly confidential call with Lucy.
We look forward to talking with you.