Skills to Prioritize in Your Role

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer

Summary: As an EA, there is a drive to learn and do everything. Efficiency and value within your role is the goal, so how do you get there? With all the skills you can learn, what should you be focusing on? Let’s talk about finding the best skills to suit your strengths and goals and how to create a plan to prioritize learning, honing and practicing them.

You walk into the office in the morning, what are the first things you do? Perhaps it’s open your calendar, rummage through emails, get on the phone with a vendor and make some progress on planning an upcoming event. From the moment you arrive in the morning, you are already utilizing some important skills – whether it’s time management on how to prioritize which tasks get attention first, or communication skills when you are interacting with a colleague or vendor. The question is, what skills should you focus on mastering and why?

Skills to Master And Ways To Implement Them into Daily Tasks

An article on titled Executive Assistant Skills: Definitions and Examples lists the skills customarily required of an EA to be:

Time-management Skills

The ability to organize and compartmentalize the tasks which need to be completed in an effective manner.

Organizational Skills

On any given day, an EA may need to juggle keeping track of company records, managing different projects, and completing pages of task lists the Executive does not have time to complete. 

Administrative Skills

There is always an opportunity to practice these skills in the workplace when taking calls, entering data, and filing company records.

Technology Skills

This article further describes the necessity of this skill set by writing “software and applications for scheduling, recording data, keeping client and contact information organized and other technologies are often essential tools that executive assistants work with. Therefore, employers may require this hard skill of their assistants, as well as the ability to learn and utilize new and unfamiliar software and technology.”

Problem-Solving Skills

Critical Thinking Skills – If something goes awry with a project your Executive needs you to complete by a specific time, you need to develop a creative solution fast.

Strategic Planning Skills

Analytical Skills – Executives often require Executive Assistants to manage projects or plan events by going through different scenarios to find the best approach to completing this task.

Communication Skills

Executive Assistants converse with numerous staff members, clients, and individuals in management every day through different mediums like phone calls, text messaging, direct messaging, video chats, and old-school face-to-face contact. Written and nonverbal communication is also essential. Messages always require proofreading for proper grammar and professional tone to get your message across clearly and confidently.

Networking Skills

Many Executives need their EA to represent the company when recruiting clients or onboarding more employees.

Interpersonal Skills

No matter what medium of communication you are using, interpersonal skills like empathy are always essential to display towards the other person.

Above and Beyond Skills

Solely incorporating each skill described above into your plan will not catapult you towards a promotion. It will make such a difference if the Executive absolutely cannot do his or her job without you. Each time you solve a problem with impressive critical thinking, make sure to jot down what resources you used to pull off the impossible. Eventually, you will have an entire arsenal of secret tricks. Maintain your calm in difficult situations where analytical and problem-solving skills are necessary. Working for an Executive with a high-pressure job often means feeling the pressure yourself, and modeling a calm exterior will prove you are indispensable. SnackNation‘s blog post 14 Easy Ways to Create a Zen Office Space on a Budget is a useful resource when composure is necessary for the workplace.

Becoming a trusted confidant and counselor to your Executive is vital to standing out on your way to a promotion. Take advantage of the people from various departments you can get in front of because of your relationship with the Executive. Learn as much about what happens in the company as possible by picking people’s brains. Take each task on your boss’s plate and prioritize the ones you cannot complete without his or her knowledge. The realization that the Executive Assistant has everything under control is priceless. Refer to another Snack Nation blog post called 17 Executive Assistant Skills In 2021 For Insane Effectiveness for more guidance on how to consistently learn and become an expert in all the skills best to focus on before asking for a promotion from the Executive.

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer