Today’s Administrative Assistant Has Power

(Excerpt from Become an Inner Circle Assistant book, Joan Burge)

For the first time in history, the administrative professional’s job description hints at the full engagement of cognitive powers. When the job description includes identifying goals for the coming year; meshing them with your executive’s goals and department and organization goals; being prepared to track progress at specific intervals; and being accountable for success or lack thereof, it’s easy to tell this is not a job for dummies!

You’re not a puppet, and someone else is not pulling the strings. You’re in charge. You have power. And if you’re to attain the inner circle assistant spot and maintain it, your intellect plays a large part in your success. So if the best career advice you’ve received so far is to dress for success, get ready to think bigger. And “think” is the operating word.

I am talking subtle power; not “walk-all-over-everyone” kind of power. As an administrative or executive assistant, your power will come from your brilliance! It comes from your thinking and fully engaging all your senses every day throughout the day. This is no easy feat but you can do it. Here are a few tips:

Look for ways to add value to the company. Several years ago at the Office Dynamics Annual Conference for Administrative Excellence, we had 249 assistants collaborate on how an assistant could add more value at work when he or she is already adding value. The group came up with over 400 ideas which later became the now Amazon-best-seller, Who Took My Pen . . . Again?

Don’t settle for “top of the mind” thinking. I often see this in my training classes. I assign various activities throughout the day and there may be one group who is always done first. They are so excited and “brag” about being the first ones to finish. However, what they don’t realize is that their ideas are not nearly as rich as the team who really massaged the question or issue and gave deep thought to it. Don’t be a surface thinker. Dig deep and you will find a treasure of great ideas.

Powerful assistants self-manage. Remember power in the subtleties. Self-management is being very aware of your feeling, emotions, attitudes and knowing how you tend to respond to things. In what ways can you manage your thoughts, especially when you feel upset or work is chaotic?

Commit to quality performance. There is no way around this one. In today’s casual world, people are becoming quite slack in their writing, set up of emails, and attention to detail. If you will take the extra time to dot every “I” and cross every “t”, you will be far ahead of the crowd. Being a top performer in the administrative profession is powerful. You will gain respect; be viewed as that person who goes the extra mile; who really cares. You will build a reputation of excellence that will take you places the rest of your working days!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

This blog is part of our 2017 Blog-A-Thon. Please leave a comment or share the blog for your chance to win one of our amazing giveaways! The more blogs you comment on and share, the more chances you have to win. If you’d like to learn more about our Blog-A-Thon you can do so here. Hint: Subscribe to our blog in the upper right-hand corner so you never miss a blog.

Joan Burge



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30 thoughts on “Today’s Administrative Assistant Has Power”

  1. I think the part that is challenging for me is letting myself down (commit to quality performance). At the end of every quarter there are several lengthy reports I compile and proofread. During this time, other tasks start to slide and don’t get the right amount of timely attention. You have just encouraged me to look for a solution and stop letting this happen.

  2. Victoria Prestia

    Excellent article. I strive for excellence at work: research, checking the grammar and spelling in emails and correspondence and entering the correct information into Excel spreadsheets. I receive awesome feedback from my supervisor.

  3. Another great article, Joan! Our perceptions are powerful, especially those of ourselves whether positive or negative. We can do or become anything we set our minds on, it is true that as we think so we become. I always look at a challenge as a positive growth opportunity!

  4. I follow your blog from Germany! I really admire your work and I am glad to have found your Website and books which are an endless source of inspiration for my profession as personal assistant. I especially love this post because it gives the real and modern picture of how an EA or PA should be seen and should see her-/himself. Keep on spreading the word…there still exist too many prejudices with regard to our job.

  5. I totally agree. I often reread emails, even save and rethink what I wrote, instead of sending in haste. It makes a difference in how my words come across and in the response (if one is required).

  6. The excerpt was great, and I’m looking forward to reading the book! I bought it, but haven’t had a chance to start it, yet! I especially agree with the portion about not responding to questions/problems with a shallow, top of the mind response. People DO notice when you have given some creative thought to an issue!

  7. Great topic! Ms. Joan time to design us an Office Dynamic Administrative Cape! 🙂

    I do agree. When we take on a project we should operate in “Excellence,” striving to be the best Assistant we can be. That will mean taking the time to pay attention to detail more closely!

  8. Hi Joan. I couldn’t agree more. I began administrative work almost 30 years ago and I’ve seen many changes over the years. In some offices, admins are taking on some of the roles previously filled by executives. Having been in the administrative field for so long, I’ve come to realize that what gets you noticed is the quality of your work, not how fast you complete it. I take more time to review and adjust my emails and make changes to my work before sending them to my supervisor. It’s the kind of thinking that helps to advance your career. I’ve been given more responsibilities and have been promoted twice in the same department. Slow and steady wins the race.

  9. Great article. I like that the management in my company respects my opinions and knowledge and we work as partners.
    Happy Administrative Professional Day!

  10. I absolutely agree! The basics are so important these days. I see the younger workforce not fully understanding the impact of good spelling and grammar and appropriate manners, let alone taking initiative. How do we reach those that are in the “entitlement” generation, whether they hold that attitude or not? Modeling is the best way I have found to show others what can be accomplished with just a little more time and attention paid to any and every thing I do.

    1. Thank you Rachael. Modeling is an excellent idea. Yes, I have seen a downslide with grammar and punctuation. I recently reviewed about 100 resumes for an entry level admin position with our company. I immediately deleted about 95% of them due to poor formatting, spelling, too brief, punctuation and grammar. People need to pay attention, especially administrative professionals.

  11. Thank you, Joan. I fully agree with all of your comments especially that you need to “Dress for Success”. Look the part if you want respect.

  12. Good article. in my office I feel like I do have the power but my group knows I do not take advantage of it.

  13. Happy Administrative Professionals Day to all my colleagues out there!!!

    Joan, you are on the money. Now we do have to align our goals with that of the organization’s. We need to be a part of the big picture where the organization sees itself. I look forward to you guiding us through this subject in our coming webinars.
    Appreciate all you teach us everyday.

  14. Once again, you lead by example, with authentic, respectful and honest support, feedback and guidance. Thank you and your team and all administrative professionals for the wisdom, camaraderie, compassion and friendships we all continue to build together!

    Time for all to stand up and power pose to the sky!

  15. Thanks Joan for making us feel the power!!!! This really drives our career home!!!!!
    Thanks again!!!!!

    Happy Administrative Assistants’ Day!!!!!

  16. These are some great reminders. Self-managing can be a challenge for me in being aware of how I respond to things, and I frequently commit to quality performance.

  17. Linda from St. Louis, MO

    Hello, Joan

    Happy Administrative Professionals Day to Everyone!

    Thank you, Joan, for the article. I’ve read your great book, Become an Inner Circle Assistant. I really aspire to going the extra mile. I think kindness goes a long way. Also, I really think being a cognizant assistant is a plus for your boss and your company. I take the time to read documents and understand their meaning, not just to proofread for grammatical errors. 🙂 You learn things that way! Thank you, Joan and the entire Office Dynamics crew, for your webinars, books, blogs, etc. I’ve learned so much these last four years. 🙂

  18. This is excellent information that I wish I had access to years ago when I was just starting my career – but as it has been said, there is no time like the present to begin being everything you can be. Thanks Joan.

  19. Thank you for this reminder — “If you will take the extra time to dot every “I” and cross every “t”, you will be far ahead of the crowd.” In today’s busy world, we don’t always take the time to dot every “I” and cross every “T”. We need to!! I will be working on this. Happy Administrative Professional’s Day!

  20. I love this post and it validates the role I have played in the past. Unfortunately if a ‘new sheriff comes to town’ and values and expectations are different, that role changes. I look forward to the day I will again be valued and looked to as a business partner and not just someone typing, filing and answering the phone. If anything, I’m certainly learning to smile through it all and be flexible…and patient. I must have prayed for patience…. 🙂

  21. Really love this. it’s so easy to sink into mediocracy. It really pays to be around like-minded people. Thank you, Joan, for constantly encouraging us to continually challenge ourselves.

  22. After 18+ years in my position, thanks to Office Dynamics, I finally feel like I’ve realized my power and value. I have realized I don’t merely have a job….I have a career. That alone has completely revolutionized my attitude and has motivated me to invest in myself. Too often, I’ve sold myself short on my abilities and strengths. I’ve never been good at “tooting my own horn”. I’m still a work in progress, but I’ve learned to see my true value and for that I thank you Joan, from the bottom of my heart!!!!

  23. Sharon Chaplain

    Before I was introduced to Office Dynamics, I believed I was on the top of my game in everything. I began working for the Controller of a company, who insisted I look at OD closely and dig into the training. He had the mindset, as stated above, that just because you finish a task quickly doesn’t mean the quality is there. Although I’ve moved on from that company, I’ve learned a great deal from the experience. I thought the ability to multi-task was something to be proud of, but I didn’t see what kind of work was being put out, nor could I see that I wasn’t being as professional as I could be.

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