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Be an Amazing Executive Assistant with these 12 Best Practices

Looking for ways to stand out and be an amazing executive assistant?

We asked C-Level executives and experienced executive assistants for their insights on how to be the best. From being trustworthy to planning ahead, there are several tips that may help you be an exceptional executive assistant in the future.

Here are 12 best practices for being an amazing executive assistant:

  • Be Trustworthy
  • Create Winning Travel Itineraries
  • Follow Tech-Trends
  • Be Organized
  • Draft Ghost Emails
  • Learn to Handle Working Under Pressure 
  • Conduct Personal Upskilling
  • Push Back When Needed
  • Learn Digital Marketing Skills
  • Communicate at Appropriate Times 
  • Understand Emotional Intelligence
  • Plan Ahead

Be Trustworthy

As an executive assistant, you will be privy to confidential information that must be protected. Above all else, you must not betray the confidence bestowed upon you and cannot share with even your best friend.

Lorraine Bossé-Smith, Concept One LLC

Create Winning Travel Itineraries

Executive assistants should be adept at making personalized travel plans. While many people may think booking a flight, renting a car, and reserving a room is a cinch in today’s digital world, business travel is different. These tasks have a high level of detail, especially when the trip involves multiple people going to several destinations. Furthermore, an executive assistant must also know to consider everyone’s travel preferences when creating the itinerary to make the trip more enjoyable and possibly a tremendous success.

Chris Gadek, AdQuick

Follow Tech-Trends

One of the most important roles an executive assistant plays is assisting with technical matters. If an executive has been locked out of their account for example, it’s the assistant’s job to troubleshoot. There are also new technology trends moving faster than most executives have the time to keep up with, meaning it’s the duty of the assistant to research and report on what new developments could benefit the company.

Kate Lipman, embrace Scar Therapy

Be Organized

It is very important to stay organized. Set a schedule for your days and weeks and plan as far ahead as possible. In order to help your manager stay organized, you as an executive assistant must work in an organized fashion.

Jared Hines, Acre Gold

Draft Ghost Emails

One thing an executive assistant can do that will provide incredible lift and free up their boss’s time is to draft ghost emails. My EA started 

doing this for me a couple years ago and it has been a life saver. In fact, I don’t know how I would survive without her now. Essentially, email is the biggest drain on my time. Reading and answering emails simply drains my energy and directs my attention away from more important activities. So now my executive assistant reads my emails for me and anything that doesn’t require specific attention, she drafts a response for me. Then twice per day, I sweep through my inbox, quickly read her drafts, and if they look good, hit send. Honestly, this saves me hours each day and has elevated her to “indispensable” level in my book.

John Ross, Test Prep Insight

Learn to Handle Working Under Pressure 

The role of an executive assistant can sometimes be a demanding one, so having the ability to keep your cool under pressure is a very important quality to have. If your previous work experience did not include a high demanding environment, then you must have the 

adaptability to be able to be a quick thinker and problem solver to excel in this role. Keep in mind though that even when situations get difficult, it is important to stay organized, keep proper time management skills, and ask for help when you run into roadblocks.

Joe Spector, Dutch

Conduct Personal Upskilling

As an executive assistant, it should be your responsibility to advance your skills to continue providing value, rather than waiting for the company to organize educational programs. Upskilling helps you learn new efficient ways of operating the business; therefore, as an assistant executive manager, you will be able to communicate with assurance when giving advice. These skills include emerging trends in business management, new efficient tools, and other executive tasks involved in this line of work. Taking time to upskill shows dedication to your work, and employers will feel obligated to show appreciation.

John Tian, Mobitrix

Push Back When Needed

A trusted EA is a strategic thinker and planner, so don’t be afraid to push back when it’s appropriate. Once your work has proven to be more than competent, your decision-making skills are a priceless asset to your team, so speak up when something doesn’t seem logical, leading with alternative solutions. For instance, travel itineraries that don’t account for added commute time in congested cities hosting large events can result in tardiness or a bad look for the organization. Flagging this issue and offering a different route or travel plan can be incredibly valuable to maintaining one’s reputation. Taking ownership of the role and being proactive when conflict comes up is key to being an amazing executive assistant.

Russell Lieberman, Altan Insights

Learn Digital Marketing Skills

Many assistant positions involve some kind of digital marketing skills, even if it’s just creating a newsletter template or doing some social media posts. It helps to be somewhat savvy with digital marketing tools, so if you are trying to land an executive assistant job, prepare to offer these kinds of skills.

Drew Sherman, Carvaygo

Communicate at Appropriate Times

Batch and ask non-urgent questions in the least-busy working hours, or send at the end of the day as an email. A primary function of EAs is protecting time, both your interactions and correspondence as well as external points of contact. Establish the preferred mode of communication for those urgent requests, such as Voxer, text message, or Microsoft Teams, a recurring time for regular daily check-ins, and which types of interruptions are off-limits unless there’s an emergency. When we clarify what lines of communication look like in practical terms, everyone knows what to expect and how to best operate to keep information flowing with efficiency and ease.

Tommy Chang, Homelister

Understand Emotional Intelligence

You’re an exceptional executive assistant when you have a great level of emotional intelligence and actively seek to improve it. After all, interacting with people is a vital part of your job. So you need to understand the forms of communication that will be most effective, especially when dealing with a multitude of personalities that can be on opposing sides. You should be able to read body language, understand people’s psychology, their triggers, fears, and expectations. As you master these skills, you’ll be entering a completely different playing field, providing immeasurable value to your executive.

Nicole Ostrowska-Cobas, LiveCareer

Plan Ahead

Plan ahead to anticipate problems, remove obstacles, and do advance prep work for your boss. Having these small tasks done in advance will bring down your boss’s stress and anxiety. You won’t be able to think of everything, and of course, there are limits to what’s within your control, but it’s a percentage thing. The more dependable you are at this, the more you are demonstrating your value to your manager.

Torrey Hogan, Find My Profession

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