In the last decade, the way that executives work with assistants has changed drastically. Increasingly, the traditional relationship between leader and assistant was entirely focused on paperwork, diary management and other administrative tasks.
However in recent years, there’s been a significant shift. More company leaders and senior departmental heads are seeking a more dynamic, partnership-driven relationship with executive assistants. The professional scope of tasks has evolved to a more sophisticated, collaborative and strategic level of support.
So today, I’m outlining the benefits of allowing your executive assistant to step up and become a business partner and chief of staff.
When you are a senior executive in an organisation your business partner EA is an extension of your contribution. You have a highly capable, competent, commercially-savvy sounding board at your fingertips. Typically the EA has as much (if not more) intricate understanding of the business and its objectives as the leader, and can offer high-level strategic insights on a daily basis.
Your EA prioritises your efforts and acts as your ambassador within the broader organisation and to external stakeholders. You have a close ally watching your performance on all levels, in a position to provide constructive evaluation when necessary. A business partner EA will be analysing opportunities, strategically planning and preparing for all eventualities. The EA is operating from a slight distance and is therefore well equipped to read the state of play and stay one step ahead at all times.
At all levels of business interactions, your EA is a credible witness, able to read the room and provide insights that you may otherwise miss. EAs with a strong sense of judgement and common sense are able to read people’s body language and non-verbal cues to determine their true sentiment. For example, while you are presenting at a pitch, board meeting or staff gathering, your EA is watching the room, reading reactions and giving you the lay of the land. It can be difficult to identify these kinds of insights on your own, so your EA is able to provide that level of clarity you may otherwise miss.
Your executive assistant may be able to step in and act on your behalf when you have other engagements or more important priorities. This enables business workflow and productivity to flourish unabated, even when you are absent or occupied elsewhere. When fewer decisions are required of you and your EA can keep projects moving with less input from yourself — there’s less waiting on your desk for your signature of approval, ensuring you are focusing on the core KPIs of your role.
Most executive assistants act as gatekeepers, ensuring there isn’t an overflow of correspondence coming into the office. However business partner EAs take that correspondence flow up a notch by providing initial reviews and feedback, in turn ensuring that what does land on your desk meets your standards. This can ensure better productivity in teams and faster decision making. A business partner EA will have the required judgement to know what correspondence needs to be recirculated and improved before it lands on your desk, without keeping you in the dark from important news that needs to be brought immediately to your attention.
When you have an EA controlling the flow of information, then you as the executive are empowered to concentrate on the key drivers of business growth. Your diary is not as full of commitments that have you pulled from pillar to post, leaving you less time for analysis, reflection and consultation. Your EA will prevent interruptions and intrusions as much as possible and ensure you don’t get distracted by day-to-day operational matters.
A business partner EA should be participating in all leadership meetings, not to take notes and fetch coffees but to provide strategic support to you as an executive. Keeping your EA across the highest level of analysis and decision making will ensure you have an ally, champion and partner at the highest level. Your EA can help manage relationships with stakeholders and act as an ambassador for you as an executive.
A business partner EA will allocate time to watching industry trends and keeping note of any developments of interest that require your attention. Monitoring media reports, following competitors and subscribing to industry bulletins is all necessary to ensure you stay up to date with the latest industry and commercial developments. As a busy executive, there’s probably more news articles and reports that you have time to read, so empowering your EA to stay abreast of external news can allow you to focus on priorities whilst keeping informed via your EA’s briefings.
A c-suite’s work life is filled with important business decisions, often directly impacting the future of the business, requiring management of significant budgets and protecting the careers of all employees. So it helps to have someone simply to discuss decisions with beforehand. Having a senior operator on your team gives you the opportunity to brainstorm and evaluate business decisions. Your EA can play devil's advocate and provide insights on potential ramifications of your decisions that you may otherwise miss. Additionally, your EA is a useful sounding board, a willing and capable ear to listen and provide informed advice and insights, helping you be more decisive and more confident in your leadership decisions.
Altitude EA are specialists in high-performing executive assistants. We’d love to help you fill this crucially important role. We have a unique understanding of the evolving role of the executive assistant and a strong network of contacts with EAs for some of Australia’s leading employers. Call Anastasia today on 0421 16 55 96 to see how we can support you.