skills executives want from assistants

The Top Skills Executives Want From Assistants Today

Office Dynamics often surveys managers and high-level executives as to the skills, attitudes, and behaviors that are most important for an assistant to possess. Here are some non-edited, direct quotes from them. See how you measure up. If you are doing these already, then ask yourself . . .

  • “How often do I do this?
  • Am I doing this every single time?
  • Over a year’s time, what percentage of the time do I do this?
  • How can I get better at this?”

“It is very important for my assistant to be “smarter” than most. The ability to organize and prioritize is right behind SMART! You have to organize to be able to know what is in front of you. Since there is always more than you can get done, the ability to prioritize is critical. The most important ability an assistant has to learn to do is to figure out what NOT to do. Throw those items out of the boat and prioritize the rest.”

“Communication skills, both oral and written, are a must-have. It almost goes unsaid that if you cannot communicate in a clear, timely, and concise manner you will never make it.”

“Technological skills are a must-have to keep up with the pace and dynamics of the job. You are not trying to keep up with yourself, but usually the department. The right tools and the common sense to apply them appropriately are a given in any role today.”

“Toughness is key. The job is usually under-rated. You are steering the ship. Suck it up and make it work.”

“The ability to be a team player in the larger sense of the corporate mission, goals, and objectives. It’s not about your desk, but the big desk in the sky. You are a little fish in a big pond that can really make a difference!”

“Assistants need to do a better job of understanding their executive’s needs; anticipate and go in well prepared.”

“A must-have skill when managing your executive’s calendar is to understand your executive must have down time.”

“When you speak on my (executive) behalf, you need to use my voice. Communication is important; ask questions; build a relationship with others.”

“Communications: When an assistant is writing an email on her executive’s behalf, acknowledge who you are communicating with and how you are communicating with them. If they are a high-level executive, you need to craft your message as such (and select your words carefully).”

My intent in this blog was to bring you into the world of executives and share with you some of the traits, behaviors, and skills they view as valuable. This is just a small snip-it of what I have heard. I hope you are curious to learn more about the skills you need to truly be successful in the administrative profession.

Joan Burge


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