How to be intentional in your Assistant role

As an Assistant, it is not enough to provide administrative support to your Executive. Today’s EA role has evolved into a more strategic partnership, with Executives relying on their Assistants for counsel, technical expertise, and critical analysis. Therefore, developing a unique set of skills is essential based on your Executive’s responsibilities, personality, and communication style. In a recent Virtual Summit session, Candice Burningham, Founder of Admin Avenues, shared her thoughts on indispensable vital skills that every Assistant should possess:

Integrity and discretion

As an Assistant, you are often privy to sensitive business-related and personal information. You must maintain confidentiality and be aware of conversations, documentation, and correspondence vital to keeping on a need-to-know basis. Your Executive will rely on your absolute discretion, and you must have the integrity to be their trusted counsel and confidant. Always remember that once trust is broken, it is rarely repairable.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Effectively applying emotional intelligence within your Assistant role is more than just reading the mood of your leader or team on any given day. A high level of emotional intelligence allows you to take note of the reactions of other stakeholders, often allowing your leader to take this information into account when deciding the next steps. People skills are essential; a huge part of that is reading the room and understanding people’s emotional cues and body language. Importantly, you will be able to effectively and accurately read your leader and other senior team members, guiding you to know when assertiveness is required to keep tasks on track or when a more passive stance is needed.

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A sound understanding of your skills, strengths, and weaknesses is critical to matching yourself with your leader’s complementary attributes. Being honest with yourself about where you shine and where you need development will help you consistently highlight your strengths and deepen your skill set where needed. For example, if you know that you are exceptionally gifted with managing project timelines and deliverables, find ways of demonstrating this to your current or prospective Executive who needs help staying on track.


As an Assistant, your leader must know they can rely on you to own and deliver upon tasks, challenges, and opportunities as they arise. This will require you to trust your abilities without their consent or reassurance. By curating a reputation of dependability, you will quickly elevate yourself in the eyes of your Executive.


Executives often prize adaptability and flexibility in their Assistants. However, there is an underlying quality that supports this mindset, which is resilience. Having well-developed resilience is critical for success in your role. In a high-pressure and fast-paced environment, change is often the only constant. Therefore, a resilient attitude will help you adjust quickly, no matter the circumstance.


To truly become indispensable as an Assistant, you must be able to anticipate your leader’s needs at any given moment. By paying attention to their habits, preferences, routines, and typical responses, you can learn how to respond to each scenario without needing explicit direction. Responding to the needs of your leader may be as simple as having their coffee ready as they walk through the door in the morning or as complex as remembering their process of calling a board meeting and issuing a company-wide email in the rare event of negative media attention.

In conclusion, Assistants today have accepted the challenge of proactively adjusting their typical duties to suit the ever-changing needs of Executives. It requires a specific mindset and outlook that gets results, so being ready to think outside the box and take the initiative are vital considerations. Growing your toolbox full of customised skills is essential for helping your Executive reach their goals. To become an indispensable Assistant capable of making informed decisions and providing valuable insight to Executives, don’t forget to enrol on the Assistant Mindset online course. It’s jam-packed with tips and tricks you can use daily, so start now and watch yourself climb the career ladder at lightning speed.