As we start to come out on the other side of the pandemic, exhausted employees are in need of more support. Because of this, the need for Executive Assistants (EAs) has surged. Many companies are doubling the size of their admin teams this year, and there is high demand for assistants who can take on a more strategic role and ultimately step into a leadership function.
Leaders and organizations are also re-thinking what the assistant role can look like. While the assistant role is not new, it has adapted in many ways over the years. In a 2014 article, USA Today claimed we were in “the golden age of executive assistants,” as the role boomed across Silicon Valley tech companies. Now, assistants are a well-respected role in most organizations, and it’s not uncommon to find at least one assistant in any company, regardless of its size or industry. So with the role being so prevalent, why do assistants need to show their strategic value?
Why do assistants need to show their strategic value?
Well, there are a couple reasons. The first being the rise of new technology and automations aimed at relegating mundane, repetitive tasks to machines. This shift could impact assistant roles that are centered around alleviating business leaders from the time-consuming tasks of managing inboxes, scheduling meetings, tracking expenses, and organizing details. While we’re a long way from technology replacing the interpersonal and emotional intelligence that good EAs bring to their roles, today’s assistants would be smart to not only prepare for, but embrace this transition.
Second, the workforce as a whole is ready for more. Assistants are eager to move beyond calendar and email management and provide more impactful support and build long-term, meaningful careers for themselves. Meanwhile, business leaders (and even middle managers) are overwhelmed and in need of more support with problem solving, decision making, and seeing around corners.
But this shift is unlikely to happen unless assistants are willing to take the reins and build the roadmap for themselves and the next generation of assistants toward a more strategic role.
How to start building the roadmap toward more strategic impact within your organization
There are so many big and small ways you can start to enhance your strategic impact within your organization. Below are just a few ideas to get you started.
1. Understand your company’s strategy
Put simply, a company’s strategy is the clear set of plans, actions and goals to achieve desired success. Their strategy likely includes a variety of different factors — from company culture to business systems — some (or many) of which your leader will be responsible for driving. Understanding this context will give you a broader view of your leader’s role and impact within the company at large.
2. Develop your business acumen
Having a clear picture of how a business operates, how a company makes money, and the role each team member plays in that process goes a long way in helping you think more strategically within your role. Don’t be afraid to read, research, and explore outside of your role to gain a wider view of how a company functions.
3. Find and fill gaps in expertise
As the eyes and ears of your leader (and therefore, your organization), you’re in a prime position to notice things that others don’t. So use that to your advantage! Take the initiative to not only point out gaps in the business, but offer your solutions, too. This shows that you are proactive and care about the success of the company as a whole.
4. Ask good questions
Being new to something does not automatically make you unhelpful. Actually, it can help you approach situations with more curiosity and an open mind that others do not. Whether you’re alone with your leader or in a big meeting, don’t be afraid to jump in periodically or follow-up the meeting with clarifying questions. Not only will it help you learn, but it can help others see things from a different perspective.
The modern assistant is strategic and tech-enabled
Assistants know the value they can bring to their leaders and organizations. But when they can show their strategic contribution and embrace technology that makes them more streamlined and efficient, organizations are able to better quantify the impact. This measurable value not only opens doors for assistants, but proves them to be a vital resource in the future of work.
Download our free guide, The Assistant Playbook for Future-Proofing Your Role.
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