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Ethan Bull 19 min read

Elevating Your Role As An Executive Assistant


Your journey as an executive assistant transcends the conventional administrative role, transforming into a strategic business partnership. Evolving into an indispensable ally to your executive requires a blend of skills, dedication, and a proactive approach. Let's delve into how you can become a true business partner while excelling as an executive assistant in a remote setting.


Understanding the Executive's Vision

To truly become a business partner, immerse yourself in understanding your executive's vision and goals as well as the company’s. This means not just comprehending their immediate tasks but grasping the broader objectives guiding their decisions. Engage in discussions about long-term strategies, actively seek ways to align your support with these overarching goals, and be able to voice potential conflicts, concerns, as well as opportunities based on your view of the calendar and logistical objectives -  a key part of your domain.

Proactive Communication and Anticipation

Anticipate your executive's needs before they articulate them. By staying ahead of the curve, you showcase your proactive approach. Initiate discussions about upcoming projects or potential challenges, providing solutions or suggestions before they become pressing issues. That said, use your emotional intelligence to understand when and how to bring up such ideas and concerns. If you constantly broach subjects at the wrong time, that will affect your principal’s perception of you. If you find the right timing, can discern your principal’s openness at that time, AND come armed with a solution or highlight an issue they hadn’t considered, they will sit up and take notice.

Embracing Technological Advancements

Remote work demands a high level of technological adeptness. Familiarize yourself with categories of each vertical of software (some examples would be: project management, CRM, LMS, CMS, social media scheduling, image editing/creation, etc.) AND THEN become adept at YOUR favorite within each catagory. This gives you an overview of the whole category of technology tools, the expertise to speak to specific programs and how you use them, and then the confidence to learn a new program within that category when needed. Leverage these technologies not just for day-to-day tasks but to streamline processes and enhance productivity.

Cultivating a Partnership Mindset

Shift your mindset from being a support function to a strategic partner. Act as a sounding board for ideas should the opportunity present itself, and then offer what you feel are valuable insights and perspectives on the issue at hand.

Remember, the more succinct you can present your ideas and the less you talk is actually a GOOD thing. This will get your principal to seek your opinion out MORE because they will come to learn you only speak when you have something valuable to say. And if you don’t, just say, “I don’t have anything to add. You’ve covered it.” 

Leveraging Previous Experience and Insights

Remembering how things went the last time, allows you to assess what worked, what didn’t and how to improve. By framing your thought process with how you remember it going last time, you’re increasing your value as a business partner based on your historical knowledge and showing that you can offer a better way this time. Providing those valuable insights will solidify your position as a trusted business partner.

Tailoring Support to Executive Preferences

Understanding your executive's work style and preferences is crucial. Adapt your support accordingly, whether it's the way information is presented, the timing of communications, or the format of reports. Aligning your assistance with their preferences enhances efficiency and fosters a stronger working relationship.

Being able to ‘feel/read’ their tone of voice and facial expressions or how they express their feelings in email and via text can also be to your advantage. If you can start to take unspoken ques and turn that into execution for the objectives, they will continue to expand the things they tell you, the meetings they ask you into, and how they value your support.

Building Trust and Reliability

Reliability forms the bedrock of a successful partnership. Consistently delivering high-quality work within stipulated deadlines instills trust. Be transparent in your communication, admitting mistakes and seeking solutions collaboratively.

This goes for both the big (‘I need you to interface with the Chair…’) and the small (‘please move Monday’s meeting to 3 pm) tasks and projects that your principal will task you with. If you can look at your EA role holistically and truly understand that you can’t have the big, juice projects without making sure that there isn’t a misunderstanding on the calendar for over six months, you will continually be building a foundation of trust that can withstand anything that comes your way.

Continual Growth and Learning

Embrace a growth mindset by continually seeking opportunities for professional development. Stay updated with industry trends, enroll in relevant courses, and seek mentorship. Your commitment to growth reflects your dedication to being an invaluable asset. And if your company doesn’t offer continuing education as a benefit, you may still want to engage in such mentorship and training at a personal cost to you as you expand your skills. You’ll be able to reference such training with your principal in reviews and provide a reason behind offering a suggestion to improve workflow, communication, or your relationship in general.

A Holistic Partnership

Becoming a business partner while serving as a remote executive assistant involves a holistic approach. It requires not just administrative finesse but strategic thinking, proactive communication, technological acumen, emotional intelligence, and a genuine commitment to the executive's vision. Elevating your role transcends the boundaries of a job description; it's about forging a symbiotic relationship that propels both you and your executive toward shared success in the dynamic business landscape.

If you're an Executive Assistant and liked this article, you can sign up for our free, 5-Day EA Value Challenge video training series HERE.


Ethan Bull

Co-Founder of ProAssisting

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