The role of the Executive Assistant is ever-changing, it changes so fast that some people are confused as to what we do! Let's be real here for a second, if you were to ask a random stranger what they think an EA does, you'd probably hear them say the following, "Answers phones" "Runs errands" or my personal favorite, "IDK, Admin work?". Whatever you do don't call an EA an Admin, the word admin in the EA industry has become a taboo word that we shouldn't say out loud! Why? Well, each individual has their own feelings about it, but I like to think that it's because our role has evolved so much that we'd like to finally take some credit and celebrate our wins! Sure, we can manage a calendar with our eyes closed (easy)! And we can book a trip in no time, but that's just a small scale of what we do, so what do we do exactly?
Strategic Business Partners
There is a method to their madness! Executive Assistants are meticulous when it comes to helping their executive deliver their KPI's! Their day is planned week's in advance with deadlines in mind. They're a grandmaster at planning their executives focus for that week, a Tetris wizard when they're trying to put the puzzle pieces together on the calendar (there just isn't enough time to make it all fit), and a great soundboard for their executive. They are their executives biggest asset, and they know it!
The fact that Executive Assistant's are so great at managing and planning someone else's projects makes them the ideal project manager.
From small in office initiatives, to large scale projects, EAs are the prime Project managers. Why? Well, an exceptional EA know's how to stay organized, plan ahead, they posses supernatural psychic abilities that help them prepare for those worst case scenarios (Ok, Maybe I stretched it a little, we don't all have psychic powers) and they are super resourceful. You can rest assured a project is in the right hands when they're managing it!
I wanted to end this blog post on what I believe the most powerful skill all of us as EAs posses, and that is that we are natural born culture leaders. I am sure my readers who are EAs or have been EAs in the past have been told once or twice that they're the glue that holds the team together.
What makes EAs an executive's secret weapon is the ability to steer the culture in the right direction. During the first 30-days at a new company, the EA should have a discussion with their CEO (or top level executive they support) and mutually agree on the type of culture they'd like for their team. It's important for Executive Assistants of all levels to do this as there are two types of culture in a workplace.
Organizational culture refers to the big picture, it's usually focused on the overall culture of the company, think of mission statements + values. This type of culture is the one embodied by a great CEO and their direct reports.
Team Culture refers to the overall health of each individual team. Each team in an organization will have it's own set of missions and values, it would be silly to think otherwise. Exceptional EAs will align with their executives and identify what their mission is and they will push forward with implementing it. This usually comes in forms of team building events, team outings, survey's, etc. It's important to note that your teams culture should align with that of your organization but with it's own twist, you're all in it together!
This list can go on and on, we are the gatekeepers of time, we can problem solve like no other, in reality there is nothing an EA can't do, that's why we are Jack/Janes of all trades! I leave you all with a great quote that to me, exemplifies our greatest strengths as Executive Assistants, and perhaps it can help remind you all of just of EXCEPTIONAL you all are!
A Jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.
What are you waiting for? Join our community of amazing Executives Assistants!