Bouncers. Gate Keepers. Air Traffic Controllers. These are the select few who have a huge amount of responsibility: they decide who gets access to high-profile people or important pieces of real estate. They have a lot to juggle, and there’s a lot riding on their ability to do just that. Everyone that approaches them wants in somewhere.
At a certain point, the time of any business owner becomes so important that it, too, needs guarding. And no business owner can both run their business and protect it without a little bit of help. That’s where the role of the executive assistant comes in. You need a gatekeeper who can handle all the facets of protecting you and your business from over-commitment and burnout.
We’ve placed quite a few executive virtual assistants and we know that our clients need to have just the right person in place. That’s why we wanted to share what you need to be looking for in a standout executive assistant. Get the right person in place and you’ll have amazing support for you as you continue to grow and excel.
1. Do they have the heart of a helper?
The role of the executive assistant is to, well, assist. Being a servant and looking for every opportunity to help you is a critical function here. Some of this may be a natural trait, but it’s also a skill developed over time. You need someone who has a deep desire to see you succeed and who will work for you to make that happen.
2. Can they anticipate needs?
A high-achiever can often get so focused on their goals that they may lose sight of what’s coming down the pike. You need someone who can look ahead a bit and see that yes, you need to schedule a time between meetings to, say, eat lunch. Or that those documents need to be in the hands of your client in advance of your session together. This goes beyond taking instruction–you need someone who takes initiative.
3. Are they willing to gather necessary information about you?
Your executive assistant should know your needs, your wants, your likes, your dislikes, and should get about the business of finding it all out ASAP. Your VA functions as an extension of you and needs to know it all. They need to be pulling that information out of you as efficiently as possible, and keeping up with it over time.
4. Are they a person of integrity and discretion?
In light of point 3, they must value the confidential nature of what you do. You’ll be trusting them with everything: goals, dreams, passwords, sensitive information. Do they have the integrity and discretion to handle it? Can you openly communicate with them about what’s going on in your business and personal life? When you can trust your assistant with all the details, they can really put their servant heart to work in all parts of your life. Being able to openly communicate all of it to them and knowing they’ll keep it to themselves is vital to protecting both your business and personal interests.
5. Can they tame your calendar and guard you against overcommitting?
You have a lot going on, and your executive VA will immediately access to your calendar. Can your VA work with you to make sure everything that needs to get on the calendar, does? Will they ensure your schedule reflects both your ambitions and the realities of your life and time? Will they make sure that your work leaves you space to enjoy your personal life? A standout VA will know how to make all these pieces work together. It’s also important to note that a great assistant will be prepared to respectfully check you when you start putting too much on your plate. And you need to respect your hire enough to listen to when they push back.
6. Will they help you make your personal life a priority?
Left to our own devices, high achievers will often (if not, let’s face it, almost always) put our work over our personal life. A standout VA can assist us in prioritizing the important things when it may not come naturally–no matter how much we love the people in our lives! A great VA can eyeball the calendar and give us the gentle reminders we need to keep our non-work support systems working well, too.
7. Are they a logistics rockstar?
Your Executive VA will know your preferences: what procedures and systems work best to get you to your goals. Can they set those things up and maintain them so that you are functioning at your highest level? Will they document and formalize them so that every member of the team is in the loop? A standout VA will keep things rolling with organized arrangements that serve you best.
8. Do they communicate well?
Your assistant will need not only to communicate well with you, but also with your most important clients, the leads that may be on the fence, and the important people in your personal life. Do they know how to speak in real life and electronically in ways that are appropriate for all of those situations? It can be done–and when you find someone who knows how, you’ve got a standout.
You might think of an executive virtual assistant as someone who can set up an appointment or send a few emails on your behalf. Nothing could be further from the truth! When you have a standout executive virtual assistant, they are your greatest protector and helper. Your bouncer/gatekeeper/air traffic controller knows just how to best protect your time and energy so you can perform at your highest level. When you find someone who fits all these criteria, hang on to them, and then hang on for the ride! With their support, you’ll be amazed at what you’re about to accomplish.