7 Marks of a Great Assistant

One of the things I’ve learned from John Maxwell is that those closest to you determine your level of success. The most compelling evidence for this is your administrative assistant. A great one will multiply your impact tremendously! The wrong one can easily sabotage your success.

NOTE: I know the majority of leaders don’t have dedicated administrative support. So, I’m going to do two additional posts in the days ahead: Leveraging Shared Administrative Support and Increasing Productivity WITHOUT Admin Support.
My current assistant is Teneya – she is amazing. Here are some of the characteristics I was looking for when she was selected for the role…
Think – My first criteria when selecting an assistant is their ability to think. This is the most critical responsibility. I do not need hired hands waiting to be told what to do. I need someone who can think.
Proactive – I need someone to anticipate what needs to be done, and do it. A great example – I remember the first time my assistant asked me what I planned to work on during a plane ride. My response, “I haven’t thought about it.” Her response, “Here’s a folder of things you need to work on to prepare for next week.”  Touchdown!! That’s the kind of help I need daily.
Candor – I have got to have truth-tellers in my life. And unfortunately, the higher you go in an organization, the harder it is to get people to tell you the truth. When I select an assistant, I tell them that if they can’t regularly tell me that I’m an idiot, they can’t have the job. Also, my best performance review every year is from my assistant.
Focus – I lose focus. My assistant can’t. I get distracted, my assistant can’t. When things get crazy, you can’t afford for your assistant to join the party. He or she must be able to maintain focus on what’s important now and what’s important next.
Details – I need someone to think about, and take care of, the details of my day. Yes, travel and logistics are included, but much more… Who am I meeting with and why? What do I need to do to prepare? Teneya even asks me after meetings, “What Action Items do we have?”
Fluidity – I used to think my assistant needed to be flexible; I’ve come to realize that being flexible is far too rigid. She needs to be fluid! My world is dynamic, and she needs to thrive in an ever-changing environment.
Grace – I get a lot of requests… requests to attend meetings, requests to speak, requests to write articles for magazines, interviews, etc. The answer to most of those requests should be no. Teneya has to be able to deliver that message with grace. We want people to love Chick-fil-A as much after the call as they did before.
It’s a huge job – I’m thankful I’ve got Teneya on my team! [GLS_Shield]
What expectations do you have for your assistant? Are they mutually understood?
 

Leave a comment



Lisa Gipson

8 years ago

Yes!! Mark, Teneya is a great assistant for you! These are great tips for anyone looking to have someone help them. Thanks for sharing your “secrets” and your blog.

mark

8 years ago

Thank you Lisa – I always appreciate your feedback! Mark

Laura Hobson

8 years ago

Good pointers from the manager’s perspective.

mark

8 years ago

Laura, thanks for taking time to comment! Mark

Judith Arthur

8 years ago

You have a real “assistant” now! She is your right arm, and you are lucky to have found her! Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

mark

8 years ago

I’m very thankful to have Teneya on my team! Thank you for taking time to comment! Mark

Karen A. Taylor

8 years ago

I love this post because it was written by a leader in a corporation, who obviously values his assistant’s talents and expertise. Straightforward, easy to understand tips. Loved it!

mark

8 years ago

I’m thankful to have Teneya on my team! Thanks for your comment. Mark

Helen Regina Benson

8 years ago

Absolutely love it! Thanks so much. I am constantly on the look out for information that can help me acquire the knowledge and skills to increase my capacity to serve our President/CEO as her position grows and evolves. I love the comment about being ‘fluid’. helen

mark

8 years ago

Thank you Helen for your comment. If you find other resources that help you grow, I’m sure Teneya would love to hear about them. Thanks again! Mark

Marie C.

8 years ago

Mark, the reason Teneya is able to be so valuable to you is because you enable her to help you. I would assume you include her and empower her to know what you’re working on so she can assist you to the extent she does. This reflects on you as a great boss. Teneya is very fortunate.

mark

8 years ago

Thanks for your comment. I do work diligently to keep Teneya informed as much as possible on what’s happening in my world and in the business. I’m still working on being a great boss. However, one thing is for sure – I’m the one who is fortunate. Mark

Jim Odiba

8 years ago

Great article, refreshing and simple. On thinking as criterion, perhaps this should be qualified as ‘Ability to think quickly and reasonably’. Shaby and slow thinking can be irritating when pursuing deadline.

mark

8 years ago

I like your description. Thinking quickly, reasonably and rightly are the real objective. Thanks for taking time to comment! Mark

Niki

8 years ago

What a great article and what wonderful praise for your amazing ‘right arm’, Teneya! It shows that you have given Teneya the room to be the best assistant she can – sounds like you two are a dynamic duo. This makes me want to try Chick-fil-A even more (I’m in Canada). May the Lord continue to bless your leadership and your company!

mark

8 years ago

Thanks for your comment! I feel very blessed to have Teneya on the team. Mark

Melissa Mincey, CAP-OM

8 years ago

What a great article! I e-mailed it to myself. I plan to post it somewhere to remind me of the “7 Marks of a Great Assistant” on a regular basis because that’s what I strive to be. I used to say that my most important job was to make my boss look good, but that’s not totally accurate. My most important job is to make my boss be the best that he can be, then looking good should naturally follow.

mark

8 years ago

Thanks for your comment. I’m very thankful to have Teneya on my team!

Jennie Rook

8 years ago

Your relationship with Teneya makes you work as a team. It is ideal and one that we, as, secretaries or P.A.’s strive towards. We all like to be valued and are often overloooked. Thanks.

mark

8 years ago

Thanks for your comment. I agree with your assessment – I am very fortunate to work with Teneya!

My great Wordpress blog | Just another WordPress site | Working Without Administrative Support

6 years ago

[…] previous two posts dealt with what to look for in an administrative assistant and how to work with a shared assistant. This post is for leaders who don’t have administrative […]

My great Wordpress blog | Just another WordPress site | 10 Favorite Posts From 2012

6 years ago

[…] 7 Marks of a Great Assistant – What separates the best administrative assistants from the rest? Here’s my list of the most important characteristics of a great assistant. […]

Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved