The Power of the Introvert Assistant

Extroverts seemingly have it all; the confidence to share their ideas, the ability to take charge of a situation, the bubbly personality that draws people to them. More often than not people assume that being an introvert is a negative thing which can ‘hold you back’. If you are an introvert you might be told that you need to ‘put yourself out there more’ or ‘speak up for yourself more’.

When it comes to assistant work introverts might doubt they have the ability to lead alongside their executive. Managing a team, presenting or mentoring might be something they fear. However, I believe that introverts actually have a lot more to offer than they might first believe.

Consider what Oliver Maskell has written about his own experience and the skills he believes are inherently beneficial for introverts

Introverts can remain calm. Busy work environments create stressed employees, which reduces productivity and causes tempers to fray. Although introverts can be accused of lacking vigor, their subdued demeanor is actually beneficial when it comes to problem-solving and overcoming challenges in a demanding setting.

Introverts provide balance and diversity. Companies are waking up to the benefits of a diverse workforce, and this diversity should extend to the extroversion-introversion spectrum. The thoughtful and calm approach provided by introverts can act as a positive check on the more zealous members within a team and ensure that a range of ideas is considered before a course of action is determined.

Introverts value meaningful relationships. The financial crisis has created backlash against the hard sell. In its place, people are looking for smarter and more considered business partners. This works for introverts who prefer investing time in quality and long-lasting relationships.

Introverts are good listeners. Good communication is as much about listening as it is speaking, and many introverts are excellent listeners. This is an advantage when networking because it means introverts take time to understand what others are saying and, as a consequence, can identify areas where they may be able to work with others.

Introverts have good ideas and make valuable contributions. Introverts generally don’t say something unless they believe it will be a valuable addition to the conversation. What’s more, introverts have a penchant for creating and developing new ideas, which means they can offer a unique and alternative perspective on an issue.

All of these characteristics make for a great assistant. Building long lasting relationships, adding valuable contributions and remaining calm under pressure are key characteristics of a successful assistant.  Being quiet isn’t a bad thing, and you shouldn’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Would you consider yourself to be an introvert or an extrovert? What characteristics do you think help you the most in your role?


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Age Is Just a Number


Today I want to try something a bit different and look at how age can affect our development.

Until recently I had always assumed that being ‘younger’ counted against people who were ambitious as they aren’t perceived as having enough experience or knowledge. I had never thought about the flip side to this until I got chatting to lady nearing her 50’s. She said that she felt her age limited her development as no one thought she would be ambitious or that she would want to develop further.

That got me thinking about how can we all break down the barriers that our age can put in front of us, and actually use it to our advantage.

Its important to remember that development is for EVERYONE. Our executives are, or should be, always looking for ways to develop their performance and drive the business forward, and so should we, regardless of our age!

Being younger or new to the world of PA/EA work doesn’t mean you haven’t got a lot to offer. Often a fresh pair of eyes can see things differently so don’t be afraid to share your ideas. An article I recently read on Forbes suggested that younger people need to stop thinking that they ‘aren’t old enough’ or ‘not smart enough’ and act like they are the best at what they do to become recognised as a leader. (You can read this article in full by clicking here). The theory is that if you believe you are the best then it is a self fulfilling prophecy.

Being younger might mean you have different skills which you can use to support your executive and the wider business you work for. Social media is a great example of something that you would likely have more experience with and there may be a way you could be involved in the implementation of this for your Company.

If, on the other hand, you feel that you aren’t given the same opportunities as your younger counter parts you should also be speaking up about your ideas. You will have learnt a lot from past experiences that can help both yourself, and your executive. You should make sure that you keep your skills up to date and make the most of your strengths.

One really great way to use your experience is to offer to mentor any less experienced members of your team. You will undoubtedly had challenges to overcome throughout your own career journey and if you can pass on your learning’s to others this can be invaluable.

The same rules apply to everyone;

  1. Share your ideas
  2. Own your development
  3. Keep your skills up to date
  4. Use your strengths

Have you experienced age barriers in your work place? What do you do to overcome these obstacles? How do you use your age to your advantage?

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Psychic, Mind Reader or Amazing Assistant?

Perhaps the biggest challenge for any assistant is learning to predict the future or to read their executive’s mind.

There are, however, ways this can be done (without the need for psychic abilities!)…

The key is to look for patterns.

Does your executive ask you for the same type of document before certain meetings?

Are you always asked to print the same reports each week?

Do meetings on certain subjects or with certain people always overrun?

Does your executive always run out time to complete certain tasks?

What can you do? Using the patterns that you notice you can predict possible issues and resolve them before they happen. You can print the reports needed, schedule extra time for meetings which overrun and you can schedule dedicated time for certain tasks.

By doing this you can amaze your executive with your intuition and mind reading abilities.

So, ahead of your next one-to-one status meeting with your executive ask yourself the above questions and think about other patterns you’ve noticed and prepare solutions.

Ready to further your own development as well as mind reading abilities? Click here.


Assistant or Superhero?

Gone are the days of the Mad Men style secretaries who simply sat and typed up whatever work they were handed. Today’s assistant not only thinks for themselves, but also on behalf of their executive.

An article I read recently perfectly summarized the role of an assistant as;

“…troubleshooters, translators, help desk attendants, diplomats, human databases, travel consultants, amateur psychologists, and ambassadors to the inside and outside world.”

It pointed out that;

“…the best executive assistants are indispensable. Microsoft will never develop software that can calm a hysterical sales manager, avert a crisis by redrafting a poorly worded e-mail, smooth a customer’s ruffled feathers, and solve a looming HR issue—all within a single hour, and all without interrupting the manager to whom such problems might otherwise have proven a distraction.”

Sometimes it is important to take a step back and really think about everything that we do.

Writing out a list of all of your responsibilities and duties, simply for your own use, can greatly improve your confidence. Once you start writing you will find that your role is varied and huge.

You should be proud to be an assistant. By doing all that you do you are enabling your executive to have the time to focus on strategically leading the business forward.

So go ahead and write your list of responsibilities, include everything, and I guarantee you will be impressed!

Remember to give yourself a reward every now and again. You are a superhero and you most definitely deserve it.

To read the full article click here.

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Good, Great or Exceptional?


Have you ever considered what makes a great or exceptional assistant? What is it that sets them apart from others?

The ‘technical’ side of the role (writing minutes, sending out diary invitations, writing letters, etc.) is something that you can learn and your success in these areas is measurable.

The characteristics that can make you exceptional are intangible and are very difficult to measured, but these will make you an exceptional assistant.

An article I read recently shared the top characteristics an assistant can possess. These included:

Anticipating The Boss’ Needs


Making The Boss Look Good

Reflecting The Boss’ Values

A Self-Starter, Who Sees The Big Picture

Organizational Skills



Scrupulous About Details

Always Discreet

Excellent Communication Skills


Over the next few blog posts we will revisit this list and explore the ‘intangible’ points. We will look at how can you develop these skills and become an exceptional, world class assistant.

Do you have any points you would add to the list? Share them below.

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