You are here
How to become an indispensable EA
If you think that the work of an executive assistant (EA) is boring and routine, think again. While EAs still perform a mainly administrative role, many are now seen as a valuable business partner in ensuring smooth business operations.
"EAs now have to multi-task, organise, prioritise and be detail-oriented. Sometimes they even have to be articulate and push back when the requests [for example, when dealing with an external vendor] are too unrealistic.
“If all of that sounds like a lot to ask for in one person, that's because it is. The rigorous demands of executive life require the support of an equally adept and professional assistant,” said Page Personnel manager, Richa Sharma.
If you’re an EA, here’s how you can stay indispensable:
1. Be proactive
The EA’s role is to minimise the distractions and productivity blockers that slow leaders down. You can achieve this by taking the time to understand the particular roadblocks that your manager faces, particularly the ones he or she finds especially frustrating, and invest time in fostering the qualities that will help you navigate them.
2. Be willing to go the extra mile sometimes
This willingness to do what it takes is one of the most important qualities to embody if you want to become an indispensable EA. Regardless of whether or not a certain task is "your job", if solving a problem will help boost your manager’s productivity or company progress, you should ideally help to find a solution, even if that simply involves making all the relevant stakeholders aware of the issue.
3. Create trust between you and your boss
Without trust, the executive/assistant relationship cannot function. The executive needs to be able to hand over responsibility for managing significant aspects of his or her working life and trust that matters will be handled in a timely manner and with appropriate discretion. Ways that you can bring about trust include meeting deadlines properly and remaining unfazed during challenges.
For Scoot CEO Campbell Wilson, his EA played a key role in supporting him during the low-cost airline’s growth.
"She has demonstrated all of those qualities that I value in an EA [proactivity, diligence, thoroughness, patience, good humour and flexibility] over the four years she has been with us. It had been fairly intense time period — as we went from a start-up of five to 700 employees — and she has been integral to the airline’s growth.
“My EA — employee number 22 — even took on a HR role when needed. We went from having no policies, procedures and systems to having our current robust processes largely because of her input and her diligence," he said.