The best CEO assistants do much more than write letters and schedule trips and appointments. An ideal assistant works proactively, making herself an indispensable part of the company's day-to-day functioning. A great CEO assistant is so good at her job that she can even sit in for the CEO on meetings that he can't attend.
First and foremost, an assistant should act like and consider herself a business partner. She should be a proactive problem-solver, rather than merely a message taker. For example, if a client calls with an urgent question and the CEO can't be reached, the assistant should be familiar enough with the business and the CEO that she can offer a satisfactory answer until the CEO is available.
A good assistant should be ready to "substitute" for the CEO if necessary. She should wear clothing that mirrors how the CEO dresses, such as a suit. This ensures that she can step in for her boss when needed. An assistant who is prepared and able to handle a meeting or meet with a client is invaluable to a CEO.
The CEO's assistant is the public face of the company. She must display a professional and pleasant demeanor when answering the phone or talking to visitors. The CEO assistant's desk should be clean, well-organized and pleasant to look at, but not distracting. She must also have the social graces to attend community events, sometimes in the CEO's place.
An excellent assistant to a CEO proactively researches topics relevant to the business and is ready with advice about business issues. For example, a CEO's assistant may be asked for input in hiring important staff members based on her knowledge of the company. Or she may be the sounding board during brainstorming sessions.
Organization and Time Management
In addition to having all of those extra skills that make her stand out, a good assistant needs essential basic skills. She should have impeccable time- management skills, strong scheduling expertise and multitasking abilities. She must keep things running smoothly, especially during high-stress situations. When her boss is under pressure, an assistant has to be the rock who keeps things together and thinks clearly.