Executive assistants play a huge role in an organization, and this job requires many key qualities. In this article, we’ll talk about the skills you need to develop if you want to be a successful executive assistant and thrive in your role. Read on!
What is an Executive Assistant?
An executive assistant provides clerical and communication assistance to people in the C-suite. Executive assistants should be highly organized and have discretion when working directly with executives. Some of the duties you’ll handle as an executive assistant include the following:
- Writing emails, creating memos, and drafting communications
- Maintaining detailed records
- Creating accurate reports
- Completing payroll and handling other accounting needs
- Planning meetings, sending reminders, and managing schedules
- Answering the phone in a timely manner
- Managing calendars, travel details, and appointments
If you want to be an executive assistant, having the proper training is imperative — you can check out the Institute of Executive Assistants for this. You should also hone the following skills:
Time Management Skills
You’re responsible for managing not only your time but also the executives’ time. This means you should be highly organized in terms of scheduling meetings and travel arrangements. Doing this expertly allows the executive to focus on their key business responsibilities while keeping their workflow on track.
This includes both verbal and written skills. Your daily tasks include writing emails, making reports, making and answering phone calls, and networking. Using clear and consistent communication will help you maintain professional relationships — not only yours but also of the executive.
Executives rely on their assistants to suggest solutions to immediate problems that they don’t have the time or bandwidth to fix. These problems may include the printer running out of ink, tracking down a phone left on an airplane during a business trip, or other such issues.
As an executive assistant, you’re required to resolve these issues fast. You should provide alternative solutions and think on your feet. Overall, problem-solving expertise is a crucial skill that companies are looking for in executive assistants.
Being an executive assistant means you’ll interact with dozens of people both inside and outside of your organization digitally, in person, or over the phone. You’ll also have to ask for favors from time to time, and developing great interpersonal relationships and rapport will help you tremendously.
More importantly, you should develop a positive relationship with your executive. You must be personal yet tough; you must be friendly but professional. Not only that, but you should also develop good relationships with your executive’s inner circle, including their closest colleagues and family members.
Executives tend to keep up with the latest changes in their industries in terms of technology. Even if your boss is technically behind, you should still be technically savvy. When your executive keeps on forgetting passwords or fumbling with a new device, it’s your job to help them keep their accounts secure and their devices working properly.
You should also be knowledgeable about tools like Google Suite or Microsoft Office. If you can’t learn new software quickly, you must be well-versed in these technologies at the minimum. A bit of computer troubleshooting knowledge also goes a long way.
Last but not least, you must be tactful when keeping confidential information. Avoid leaking confidential information to other departments. Gossips are a huge no-no. On top of that, always remember where you keep sensitive files and documents.
As an executive assistant, you’ll be privy to your boss’ engagements, personal or otherwise. As a result, you should respect this privilege and try your best to protect your executive’s privacy.