Why Leadership Is Needed in an Executive Assistant's Role

January 31, 2022


Executive assistants offer support to the upper-level professionals in a company. Usually, the role entails secretarial duties like managing the boss’s calendar, coordinating meetings, and handling communication on behalf of the executive. However, it also involves representing the company's executives, managing projects, and overseeing administrative assistants.

Given the duties of an executive assistant, you require leadership skills to perform your duties optimally. If you are an aspiring or existing executive assistant, having the right skills will improve your efficiency, productivity, and career excellence. Read on for more about why leadership skills are crucial for this position and how you can acquire them.

Leadership Qualities for Executive Assistants, and Why You Need Them

Leadership requires a set of qualities necessary to motivate, guide, and provide direction to a group or team. As such, leadership is not a single skill. It is a combination of different qualities that enable you to inspire, take action, and drive a team towards a goal or vision. Below are essential leadership qualities you should have as an executive assistant.

  • Tech skills

In today's technology-driven world, being tech-savvy is becoming a necessity for most professions. Leaders need tech skills for communication, facilitating innovation, and improving processes in the workplace.

As an executive assistant, your knowledge of computers and other digital technologies is an asset for boosting efficiency and productivity. These may be planning and scheduling meetings or booking flights for company executives. As such, acquire valuable tech skills such as computer skills, coding, or proficiency in project management systems.

  • Problem Solving

While there may be protocols for handling issues, you may need to step into your boss's shoes when they are too busy or unable to attend to workplace issues. These problems can range from finding new company suppliers for stationeries to tracking luggage lost at the airport after a business trip.

You should think on your feet and derive solutions as soon as possible. Being a problem solver also goes hand in hand with being resourceful. Problem-solving skills result in better crisis management and ensure there is minimum interruption to the smooth running of the business.

  • Adaptability

One of the crucial leadership skills is being responsive to changes without losing the bigger picture. Since you deal with numerous tasks, you must be able to jump from one role to another without losing ground. You should also have the capacity to deal with unforeseen changes without losing composure or spending too much time seeking alternatives.

For example, your boss may have an impromptu meeting coming up in a few days, meaning you will need to clear their schedule to make time for the new development. Adaptability allows you to act at the moment, explore different approaches, and be grounded in situations that affect your normal routines.

  • Planning and Organization

Executive assistants deal with numerous tasks daily, including managing files and records and keeping track of events. As part of leadership qualities, you should plan and organize your duties to ensure you complete them within the given timelines. Planning also involves anticipating any challenges that may occur in the future.

Planning and organization skills come in handy in ensuring your boss knows what to do, where, and at what time. With planning and organization skills, you can prioritize important and urgent tasks. It enables you to be calm and composed even in difficult situations, thus inspiring confidence.

  • Communication Skills

A good leader can communicate verbally and in writing to provide direction, guidance, and motivation. Excellent communication ensures everyone is on the same page towards a specific goal. As an executive assistant, you are in charge of answering and making business calls, replying and sending emails, as well as drafting memos and speeches for your boss. You also interact with a lot of other executives and high-level professionals.

Therefore, you should be able to communicate appropriately. Use the right tone depending on the situation and the right formatting for business documents and communication. Excellent communication also allows you to communicate with administrative assistants and issues directions and instructions for proper coordination and supervision of projects.

Leadership skills can help you make independent decisions, take calculated risks that bear fruits, create a good working environment, and uphold the company image. They are also an asset in your role that can propel you up the career ladder.

Ways to Develop Your Leadership Skills as an Executive Assistant

Most leadership qualities are easy to acquire, provided you are committed and open to personal and professional development. Here are a few ways to build and grow your leadership skills and become better at your role as an executive assistant.

1. Evaluate Your Skills

The first step to self-improvement is self-awareness. Take a look at your current skills and identify what you are good at and what you need to improve. Note that self-assessment requires honesty when identifying your strengths and weaknesses so you can start your improvement journey on the right foot. You won’t spend your precious time perfecting what you are already good at when you can use that time and resources to improve your weaknesses.

2. Take Up More Projects

The best way to learn leadership is by doing. Consider taking up more projects or speaking to your boss to assign you duties that test your leadership qualities. This will help you learn a few things about leadership, such as decisiveness and getting out of your comfort zone. Be careful not to take more than you can handle, as you risk getting overwhelmed and jeopardizing your responsibility. With more practice, your employer will trust you with more leadership.

3. Find a Mentor.

Mentors can hold your hand, guide you, and provide you with the inspiration and motivation you need to be a better leader. As an executive assistant who works with high-level executives, you can speak to one of the executives or supervisor to be your mentor. However, a mentor can be anyone inside or outside your company who you admire their way of leadership. Take time to observe and listen to what company leaders do, and strive to put what you learn to practice.

4. Leadership Training

There are numerous leadership courses and training programs you can sign up for to improve your leadership skills. Depending on your convenience, you can enroll in an online leadership program or attend offline seminars and conferences that promote leadership skills. Note that some programs offer certification, which can boost your resume.

Executive assistants wear many hats, and having a good set of leadership skills can help you excel in your role. If you need more help with improving your skills to help you reach the apex of your career, don’t hesitate to check out our website for more resources.


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