Qualities to Look for in an Executive Assistant

Qualities to Look for in an Executive Assistant

When you start your search for an Executive Assistant, it’s common to know the hard skills you will want from your EA. You may know that you want somebody who is organized, communicative, and detail oriented.

But do you also know the soft skills you will want your EA to embody? For example, do you know if you want an EA who is self-assured, meek, or confrontational? Should they serve as a gateway or a gatekeeper

Finding an EA is a personal experience. However, there are three qualities that all business owners should look for in an EA. 

Most of these traits are in the EA already, meaning they cannot be taught. But some can be improved upon with your guidance as a Leader. 

1.  They are confident, not cocky

An Executive Assistant must be confident enough to work alongside some of the world’s most powerful CEOs. They cannot afford to be meek or timid, but they also cannot act like a diva. They need to know that this is your organization they are working to improve, and that they are working on your behalf. 

An EA who is confident does not hesitate to act when something needs to be handled. They will not flounder in the face of a client who is upset, or shrink back from an event planner who made a critical error at your expense as a business owner. 

When an EA is confident in their ability to deliver, you feel confident letting go of work. It is an EA’s job to make you feel stable and taken care of, not the other way around.

2.  They anticipate your needs

A successful EA is one who anticipates your needs by thinking ahead. They do not rely on your direction as a leader for every next step. They do more than is expected and take initiative. 

An EA who anticipates your needs would know not to schedule an early sales call the morning after a long week of travel. They would also know to send a reminder email the day before an appointment, instead of relying on the calendar invitation alone. 

Anticipating your needs is a defining characteristic of an EA, because it shows that your EA is looking out for your best interest. It provides stability and comfort. 

This is an area that may be difficult to train, because it’s hard to teach an EA to go the extra mile. It is something they either do, or don’t do. 

3.  They get inside your head

Every business owner wishes they had an EA who could read their mind. This quality is the closest you will get. 

An EA may never actually be able to read your mind, but if they “get inside your head,” they are learning to think like you and learning how you process information.

In turn, they will know how to speak and act on your behalf.

This quality is largely dependent on how communicative you are with your EA. If you share your preferences for how work should be done and explain why or how you make decisions a certain way, you are helping your EA to get inside your head. 

It’s not enough to simply say “this is what I would do” without further explanation. You need to teach your EA how you weigh scenarios and process information, so they feel empowered to act on your behalf.

An EA who is receptive to getting inside your head will demonstrate empathy, critical thinking, and a desire to understand you. They will document processes, learn your preferences and ask many clarifying questions.

These three qualities help differentiate a good EA from a great EA. They will not only make you feel cared for as a leader, but help you achieve long-term collaborative fit as your partner. 


If you’re interested in learning about what an Executive Assistant can do for your business, schedule a strategy call with us.

Our virtual team experts will help you determine how your business can benefit from our Priority Executive Assistants.

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