When you work as an Executive Assistant, you will hear some labels applied to your job including gatekeeper, guardian and even traffic cop. At first, it may seem a little insulting but there’s a lot of truth in these extra titles – although they only touch on a little of what the role involves. You could also add ‘strategic partner’ and ‘professional problem solver’ to those lists of labels for a fuller picture of the EA’s job.
In fact, in the last few years, the role of the EA has become an even more important one. While there is no shortage of apps, online tools, communication platforms and clever calendar solutions, there’s nothing can quite match the human touch. The EA makes a supporting role into a strategic one, where they are not just assisting but offering expertise and advice. The trained EA isn’t just about covering admin but analysis and technical expertise as well. This all means the skills needed for the best EA are broader than ever before. Here are some of the most crucial ones.
When you attend any Executive Assistant Courses in London or around the UK, one of the first things they will teach you is that you need to be resourceful. The role of the EA is one that involves just getting things done, not always waiting for guidance or instruction. It is also about finding creative ways to solve problems and not taking no for an answer.
There’s no doubt that being an EA can be stressful because the people you work for are often in high-pressure jobs themselves. This means that pressure is passed along to you. So, if you want to be an insanely effective EA, you need to learn to keep calm, work under pressure and still get stuff done.
Tech plays a massive part in our lives and this means a great EA needs to have a good ability to use all the most popular tools that their job demands. This might mean knowing Microsoft Office inside and out. Or it might mean knowing how to set up a Slack meeting, schedule with Calend.ly, organise documents for a presentation via Evernote or schedule some social media updates on Hootsuite. It also means being able to work through the basic problems of IT without needing to call the IT specialist.
See the big picture
As someone in the heart of the company, a trusted confidant and counsel, the EA has a unique position to see the big picture, the wide perspective. The role will mean you interact with employees at all levels, work with all the departments and also have to have a good understanding of outside partners. Keep up these relationships, nurture them and ensure you are always ‘in the know’ about what is happening in the company.
As your role as ‘gatekeeper’ or ‘guardian’, the EA is the person who needs to keep their boss on track. That means being hyper-focused on what you are doing and ensuring that you have excellent prioritisation abilities. You need to help your boss to be ruthless with what they do and have sound judgement to make those calls.
EA’s are often party to confidential information about the company and sometimes even their boss. Being discreet and keeping this information to yourself is an absolutely crucial skill for the role. You need to make sure that the information you get in your role doesn’t get passed on to anyone for any reason. If this does happen, trust can slowly erode between your and your boss and this can be fatal to the working relationship.