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"If you don't have an assistant, you are one." What to look for in your next Executive Assistant

At the 2013 Vistage Utah All City Event, Jack Daly, the phenomenal sales management speaker and guru presented to the business owners and executives in attendance on his best practices in business management. At one point in his dialog he spoke a line that was piercing and powerful to the CEOs in the room; Jack said, "If you don't have an assistant, you are one."

It is so true, CEOs are busy executives and need to safeguard their time and work only on those A list items that only the CEO can do. If they do not have an assistant, they may find themselves doing work that should rightly be performed by others. However, some CEOs have difficulty giving up responsibilities and are activity junkies, and they seem to get themselves tied up with B and C list items that can best be performed by others. Don't get tied up in B and C list matters; get an assistant.

So the question becomes, what should I look for in a quality executive assistant. I have seen some phenomenal executive assistants over time and I asked one of these rockstars to write for me a few lines on what they feel a 'rockstar' quality executive secretary does for the CEO, and here are the sage words of Bonnie Davenport, one of the truly great E.A.'s that I have experienced.

Executive Assistant Job Description

  • Manage the Executive workload and calendar, act as a gatekeeper and follow up with meetings, external contacts, projects, etc.

  • Skillfully handling outbound and inbound communication from very high level contacts in order to set meetings and progress relationships

  • Prioritizing the Executive’s and your own workload

  • Exercises independent judgment in relieving the Executive of administrative details

  • Monitor tasks delegated by the Executive to other teammates or external contacts to ensure that work is completed and deadlines are met

  • Work closely with the Executive to ensure that all tasks and projects are on schedule

  • Attend certain meetings/events to network &/or facilitate, etc.

  • Prepare the Executive for all internal/external meetings

  • Become the lead contact person on 2nd-tier but important relationships or projects

  • Completing projects on an as-needed basis

  • Studying, evaluating, and re-designing processes, implementing changes when necessary

  • Making any and all processes more efficient where possible

  • Attention to detail in composing, typing and proofing materials, establishing priorities, flagging items for Executive attention and meeting deadlines.

  • Experience in researching and booking of travel and accommodations.

  • Ability to anticipate the needs of the Executive and other senior executives.

  • Must have a firm sense of responsibility.

  • Ability to manage multiple tasks effectively with frequent interruptions.

  • Initiative and willingness to assume additional responsibilities as needed beyond the scope of the job description.

  • Must have the ability to use initiative, make decisions, and exercise sound judgment.

  • Experience with Microsoft Office applications (i.e., Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook) and Internet Explorer required.

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.

  • Proven experience with managing highly confidential and sensitive information.

  • Must be detail oriented, organized, comfortable juggling tasks from the routine to the extraordinary, and possess a demonstrated ability to work productively in a fast-paced environment with a proactive and positive attitude.

Being effective on the job as a CEO requires getting the right people around you. If you have an effective executive assistant, you can truly leverage your time and get more done, allowing you to be more effective on the job. So remember Daly's words — "If you don't have an assistant, you are one!"


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