In business today, there seems to be a lot of confusion about the difference between Administrative Assistants and Executive Assistants:
- though many people hold the titles "Administrative Assistant" and "Executive Assistant" - in most companies, there is little differentiation between the roles;
- the skill levels between individuals varies considerably, as do the expectations of the positions. There are some with high-level skills, supporting low-level managers and teams; and there are those with little more than basic skills supporting the highest levels of the organization;
- many (if not most) Senior Executives are not supported at the level they need, and their effectiveness as a leader suffers as a result. Unfortunately, very few of them even realize that things could be better if they had the right administrative support partner;
- the handful of Assistants who are extremely skilled and provide the highest level of support (I call them the "1%-ers") aren't paid commensurate with the skills they bring to the table, so many either leave for other positions, or they burn-out and do less than they are capable of doing. Everyone loses - the company, the executive and the assistant.
- There's a real need for establishing a new role - the "Chief Executive Assistant" - a highly skilled person who supports only the highest-level executives.
SupportingTheTop.com (STT) was created to help rectify all of the above.
Senior leaders of any organization, regardless of size or revenue, have different administrative support needs than lower level managers and departments.
They often work long hours juggling day-to-day operational issues while working on long-range planning projects to move their company forward and keep the profits rolling in. SupportingTheTop is designed to train assistants to become Chief Executive Assistants (CEA) - someone who understands where the company is headed and who can help to keep things moving forward while minimizing the distractions of the day-to-day issues that arise.
Senior leaders answer to Boards of Directors, the rest of the leadership team and (often) to shareholders - which requires additional work getting all the appropriate reports and presentations prepared. Unlike traditional assistants, CEAs do as much of the prep work as possible, allowing the Executive to work on only those pieces of the puzzle that require their unique knowledge, expertise and perspective.
Many executives travel extensively - which takes time away from both the business and their family. Their CEA can help minimize the amount of time spent travelling, while also ensuring that the Executive has everything necessary for the trip so it goes smoothly and causes as little disruption as possible. While the Executive is out of town, the CEA is able to competently handle any urgent or emergency issues that arise.
Most Senior Executives host important visitors (VIP clients, business partners and other dignitaries). Their CEA will have the skills to prepare the meeting materials and presentations, is adept at making all the logistical arrangements (travel, hotels, meeting space, meals); coordinates assistance from others on the administrative support team as needed; greets and interacts with the visitors with professionalism and grace; is able to quickly deal with any problems that arise (they always do!); and serves as the "go to" person when a visitor needs a quiet place to make a phone call or needs someone to make a last minute change to an airline reservation.
In short - every Senior Executive needs someone with "1%-er" skills. Unfortunately, there just aren't enough to go around!
The purpose of SupportingTheTop.com is to provide the training and resources to teach these skills to those who support the Executive Team.
If you're a senior leader, I hope you'll read the articles designed to help you make the most of your CEA (or to hire one if you don't currently have the level of support you deserve).
If you're an EA (or aspire to join the exciting world of those who support the highest ranking members of corporate America), I hope you'll use these resources to help you become one of the highest skilled (and, hopefully, most highly compensated) CEAs - a true 1%-er!