Why the Right Executive Assistant is Crucial to a CEO or Founder’s Success
Last updated: September 14th, 2023
No matter your position in the organization, the one thing you have in common with every single employee is that we all have 24 hours in a day. We may all have different jobs but that gift of 24 hours is the same for everyone.
As a C-Suite executive, how you use those 24 hours is one of the key factors determining the success of the organization you lead. Your ability to focus on your goals, be efficient, and set priorities within those 24 hours is one of the key factors determining your impact as a leader as well as your own personal life satisfaction. Being preoccupied with tasks that can be delegated dilutes your attention span and disrupts “the state of flow” researchers find so critical to insight, achievement, and creativity. Constant disruption and distraction are a recipe for failure in both life and business.
Hiring an Executive Assistant (EA) to support you is one of the most immediate and impactful actions you can take to supercharge your effectiveness. A talented and committed administrative professional will maximize your efficiency and allow you uninterrupted time to concentrate on your key priorities. Think of a world where you’re free from daily administrative tasks or fighting little brushfires every day, where your valuable time and energy is channeled towards strategic planning, executing long-term objectives, and nurturing your executive team’s growth. By bringing the right EA on board, imagine the success you’ll achieve as a business leader when you can focus solely on your top business priorities.
What Are the First Steps in Hiring an EA for the CEO?
Once you’ve made the critical decision to hire or upgrade an EA for the CEO, understanding the initial steps involved is crucial. The first fundamental steps include:
Evaluating Your Current Executive Assistant if You Already Have One
If you already have an executive assistant, but still find yourself constantly disrupted by daily trivial matters, it’s time to have an open and honest conversation with your current EA to understand why they are not providing the administrative support you need. There could be valid reasons for the challenges they are facing. After having that discussion, if you conclude that the issues lie with the individual and not the role itself, it’s time to consider an upgrade.
An upgrade could involve two possible options. Firstly, you may opt to hire a new, more experienced executive assistant for the CEO, someone with additional skills and expertise to fulfill the existing role more effectively. Alternatively, the upgrade could entail transforming the position into a Chief of Staff role, granting broader responsibilities and authority to better align with your needs and aspirations as a leader. Evaluating these options will ensure you find the level of support required to excel in your role as CEO.
Create an Exceptional Job Description
Once you’ve analyzed the situation and know whether to spend time and effort providing further training and support to your current EA, replace the current EA or hire a Chief of Staff, the next crucial step is to ensure you create an exceptional job description. This involves careful consideration of the tasks you wish to delegate and aligning the description with your work style and personality. A well-crafted job description forms the bedrock of your search for the perfect candidate.
Collaborating with your internal team or engaging a specialized recruiting firm for C-Suite level Executive/Personal Assistants can be immensely beneficial in defining job priorities and understanding what expectations are realistic within the current talent market. For instance, you might desire someone proficient in new AI software applications, but not realize that most EAs may not possess that expertise yet. In such cases your internal talent team or specialized recruiting firm will save you a lot of time by advising you to be flexible in your criteria and instead seek someone with a willingness and ability to learn new skills.
The Executive Assistant Role
Depending on the personality and management style of a CEO, the functions of an executive assistant can vary, but at their core the best EAs are an executive’s right-hand person. Their responsibilities tend to center around the following areas:
- Communications: A great EA can organize and manage your email, draft emails or respond on your behalf to emails, initiate conversations, and make you aware of potentially important issues that may not surface to your level. Some EAs even help with social media if you don’t have staff for this.
- Time Management: Your executive assistant will help you streamline administrative tasks. This includes the ability to manage your calendar by coordinating your work and personal calendars, schedule meetings, and, most importantly, determine scheduling priorities on your calendar
- Organization: An executive assistant helps set up standard operating procedures and improve business processes, including “electronic” organization. This could involve setting up a document system in the Cloud, a CRM system, scanning physical documents, organizing financials and expenses, contacts, etc.
- Projects: An experienced EA can manage projects and help you with dates and deliverables on larger projects; they can manage and track progress with the internal team. Many EAs also assist with or produce PowerPoint decks for presentations for projects. Event management is also often taken on by the EA.
- Travel: Your assistant can be responsible for booking all travel, or work closely with a travel agency to ensure you travel the way you like. They can make connections, rebook multiple times for you when your plans change, and be available while you are traveling if there are cancellations or other hiccups.
Back to the Importance of Focus
Hiring an EA for the CEO who can effectively handle the responsibilities outlined in the five areas above is the key to unlocking valuable time for deep focus and successfully leading your company. Amidst the noise of daily tasks, having the right person in this crucial role can bring clarity to your vision and enable you to concentrate on strategic priorities. Some of the world’s most successful business leaders have understood the critical role of focus, and built their teams to foster this culture. A skilled and dedicated EA can become an essential member of this team, supporting you in achieving your goals and driving the organization toward greater success.
At C-Suite Assistants, we practice what we preach and focus on only one type of search: EAs and PAs for C-Suite executives. If you have questions or need help determining responsibilities and setting up your administrative team, call us. A member of the C-Suite Assistants team can look at the description you may have already crafted for an executive assistant as well as your entire administrative team, including a Chief of Staff, and provide advice based on our years of experience with these important administrative roles. We can also provide you with an informed opinion as to whether your expectations for talent and compensation are in line with today’s market and industry trends. With C-Suite Assistants, finding the right EA is simple.
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