The Art of Adaptability: A Guide for Exceptional Executive Assistants

October 3, 2023


An executive assistant and her boss talk to each other, demonstrating adaptability.

Ask any senior leader or executive what their most desired qualities are for their assistant, and we’re willing to bet adaptability is at the top of the list. Fortunately, adaptability is a skill you can sharpen over time and through various experiences in the workplace. 

While you may be confident in your adaptability skills, do you know how to showcase those skills to prove your value as an executive assistant (EA)? Learn how in this post! 

Why Adaptable Executive Assistants Are in High Demand

Adaptability is defined as the willingness to be flexible and make necessary adjustments when things change. While it is considered a soft skill, adaptability is one of the most critical qualities an executive assistant can possess.

Your current or future employer wants an assistant who can respond to changes in the work environment and thrive in these scenarios. 

Think about it — having a right-hand person who is dependable, flexible, and capable in any situation or conflict sounds ideal, right? 

How EAs Can Use Adaptive Skills in the Workplace 

You may be unsure of how flexible and open you are until you find yourself in an environment where you must adapt quickly. There may be a conflict that needs diffusing, a new tool or software to learn, or a quick deadline that requires your attention. 

Here’s how you can present yourself as an asset to your superiors by showcasing your adaptive skills in the workplace. 

Learn to Pivot During Disruptions

Flexibility and adaptability go hand in hand, especially during stressful situations or mishaps. 

Say you’re in the middle of presenting new information to a group of executives on exciting new initiatives within your organization. Unexpectedly, one of the leaders brings a client issue to the group’s attention, and your presentation takes a backseat for the time being. 

Rather than feeling defeated, step up and offer your input to solve the issue, and time will show the leaders how flexible and valuable you are as an EA. Ultimately, it will be clear that you can pivot and prioritize whenever necessary. 

Improve Response Times

Modern businesses and organizations are constantly evolving, and an EA must be able to keep up with the increase in demand. 

An executive may need a quick script to email a few top-tier clients or a PowerPoint presentation for a last-minute meeting. Rather than going back and forth on details, focus on using the resources you already have at hand and delivering the desired results quickly and efficiently to prove your worth. 

Anticipate What’s Coming Next

While it’s impossible to see the future, you can play an integral role in visualizing potential outcomes of current situations based on your experience. 

Perhaps you’ve previously worked with a particular vendor, and you know how they may respond to conflicts. By anticipating possible reactions, you can put yourself and the organization one step ahead to minimize risk and potential headaches. 

Be Solution-Oriented

Adapting to have a problem-solving approach to conflict is another way to provide value in your role. Instead of harping on the issue, shift your perspective to determine the best possible solution. 

For example, say you are working on eliminating an internal issue related to overspending. Leverage your healthy working relationships with the impacted departments to create a plan. That way, they remain motivated and productive, rather than placing blame or pointing fingers. 

In doing so, you can demonstrate your emphasis on finding solutions, rather than highlighting problems. This will make both you and the executive look good, and show that you are focused on continuous improvement.

Sharpen Your Adaptability with ASAP’s Resources

Training and education at any level are critical for administrative professionals to advance in their careers. ASAP is committed to providing the tools you need to thrive in your current role and empower you to dream big for your next position. Explore our training resources today!

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