Updated: Nov 1, 2021
The Executive Assistant is critical to the success, health, wellbeing, and time management of the effective CEO. However, with so many time management and labor saving tools available for the CEO, it is tempting for the CEO not to have an executive assistant.
Let me relate here some reasons why I think it is so important for a CEO to have an 'awesome' Executive Assistant. When you consider the cost of time, money, and mindshare distraction that the CEO takes away from the company when doing non-CEO work (e.g., setting up meetings, scheduling travel, reviewing routine emails, writing agendas, following up on action items, conducting first-level meetings, screening phone calls, and performing any number of important but non-CEO level tasks), it makes much financial sense to have an "awesome" executive assistant, with the emphasis on awesome.
Previously, I have written a blog on this topic and I invite the reader to consider the thoughts expressed in this blog: "If you don't have an assistant, you are one." What to look for in your next Executive Assistant.
Beyond coaching executives, I also have a boutique Executive Search firm where I find top talent for the top positions, and the Executive Assistants that serve them. Here below are some behavioral considerations you might consider in screening and hiring your next executive assistant while in search for "awesome."
Emotionally intelligent, knowing the appropriate, and mastering the art of situational awareness of when to, and when not to, engage the CEO issues
Anticipates needs of the executive, and removes distractions to the executive wherever possible
Jedi Knight of MS Excel, MS Powerpoint, MS Word
Wicked Smart, but not Wicked; uses their bright intelligence and intuition to provide for the needs of the executive, and protect the executive from mindshare distractions
Able to hold confidences
High integrity person
Works well under pressure and is non-toxic when under pressure
Willing to accept the role of being available 24/7
Fits well with the executive, and the executive's spouse
Good voice and tone on the phone, recognizing that they are the first person that most execs and clients reach, prior to getting audience with the CEO
Pleasant personality, with social skill to work with all levels of individual authority; and functional compliance type personality with ability, desire, and demonstrated capacity to use systems, processes, and methods to get things done
Life-time learner; all the problems of the world are not known, and they should have good learning skills to source information and solve problems that may arise.
You find these 'awesome' traits in only a few of the best Executive Assistants, so identifying winners already working for others, and sourcing executive assistant talent pools, and the testing and selecting of talent are important aspects of finding awesome executive assistants for this role. Making sure you have a winner before you hire them is both art and science; the key is in the demonstrated homework that outlines their ability prior to hire. A good executive assistant might work for the CEO for 20+ years as they become the indispensable right-arm and invisible hand of the effective executive.