What Assistants Value in a Boss

March 31, 2021


Turning the tables

Earlier this year, in reviewing articles about the skills and competencies assistants should bring to the table, I thought it would be interesting to learn about the qualities assistants hope their principals bring to that same table.

The interview: an opportunity to assess fit

Realistically, job interviews are not merely opportunities for an employer to assess candidates. Most assistants of a certain level of experience and confidence will also be assessing the principal, and the potential for a positive working relationship. That relationship should be a two-way street, even if one person has more power.

With these thought in mind, I presented readers with 21 characteristics of a good boss. I asked readers to rate the importance of each of these qualities on a scale from one (nice, but not a priority) to five (critical).

Characteristics of a good boss

What came out top? The principal’s respect for people across the org chart. You can find the full results of this particular Weekend Poll by clicking here. For now, though, here are the Top 10 qualities of a principal according to today’s assistants.

  1. Respectful of people across the organisational chart
  2. Demonstrates Integrity
  3. Invested in the organisation’s success
  4. Demonstrates leadership
  5. Shares information
  6. Assumes well of the assistant’s efforts unless proven otherwise
  7. Supports the assistant’s professional development
  8. Makes the assistant feel valued
  9. Is a good role model
  10. Is inclusive of the assistant and other colleagues

If you’re able to credit your current principal with possessing the majority of these qualities, it’s likely a safe guess that you’re an engaged employee – which positions you to contribute effectively to your organisation’s success!


About the Author:

Shelagh Donnelly educates and inspire assistants on topics ranging from meetings and minutes to business acumen, cybersecurity and working with boards. She helps assistants nurture their adaptability, productivity and resilience in order to enjoy the career and continue to add value even as roles evolve. An international speaker, Shelagh worked with C-level executives for more than 25 years and is recognized for her governance expertise. Shelagh founded her globally read Exceptional EA website in 2013, and is the author of the upcoming book, The Resilient Assistant.   

This article first appeared in Exceptional EA, a globally respected professional development resource for administrative professionals. Visit to find out more and tell her we sent you


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