A bit of admin, long hours, crazy deadlines and almost impossible missions. Supporting C-level executives is more than scheduling, filing and minutes. A solid chunk requires intellect, foresight, agility, innovation and strategy. It’s a gold mine of opportunities and an accelerated path to developing executive and top management skills. Working in the 'top' office has advantages and here are a few I found valuable.
Working with CEOs builds character
Working with the most respected and sometimes - let's face it - the most feared person(s) in the organization builds confidence and courage to push boundaries and go beyond the comfortable norm. Being an assistant in a fast-paced environment yields sharp listening skills and a get-it-right-the-first-time attitude. These traits are not just for the office; they benefit personal life too.
The compensation is decent
And it keeps getting better if you continually develop skills that compound the value of your role. Supporting C-level executives entails doing whatever it takes to ensure your manager succeeds in that which is priority to them and the organisation. Success is a non-negotiable and EAs are usually fairly compensated to emphasize the value of the work and to encourage commitment, focus and flexibility.
You are an influencer
The role is an opportunity to help shape and improve standards within the organisation.
EAs know what executives are aiming for and are also exposed to realities on the ground. They can make contributions that help executives achieve the organization's goals while being fully cognisant of all-around impact.
There is unparalleled exposure to information
This is a big one. EAs normally see everything and that's why confidentiality is a key success driver when supporting C-level executives. EAs are the Executive’s left/right-hand extension and need the information to execute and understand their manager’s perspectives and priorities. Extensive access to intel provides a competitive platform to upskill and master how organisations are managed and business conducted at the top.
Did someone say CEOx?
Supporting C-level executives can be a route to becoming one yourself. You are in the room, at the table with the strategists and visionaries. The exposure is a game-changer! I like the idea that you are the average of 5 people around you. Being the average of your manager, executives, top stakeholders and the Board is attractive. Your leadership skills have no option but to naturally scale up.
Your network explodes
You wake up one day and your WhatsApp is full of business messages and calls with the who’s who of the organization: decision-makers, stakeholders, funders and partners. EAs become part of the leadership network. This beautiful space is not to be abused and navigating it with respect is another mark of a good EA.
You help people achieve their goals
There is a deep satisfaction that comes from giving or supporting the next person. It exists even in a paying job and finds ways to surface in everyday wins and achievements. It feels good when a colleague says “Thank you for the help. We nailed it!” or knowing that you contributed to the closing of a big contract. These peak moments affirm the power of your contributions and refuel your energy tank.
As with a coin, there is a flip-side to being stationed in the C-suite. In my upcoming post, I'll talk about the hurdles that come with the role and offer tips on how to overcome them like a pro.
The Secret C-Suiter ©