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The "Invisible" Executive Assistant

As we all know, Executive Assistants are the unsung heroes of the executive suite, working diligently behind the scenes to keep everything running smoothly. They are the linchpin that holds everything together, the gateway to their executive, and the orchestrators of order in a chaotic world. However, despite their critical role, some Executive Assistants often find themselves in the paradoxical position of being "invisible."

If this is how you feel sometimes, here are some tips that can help you remove the cloak of invisibility.

Why Visibility Matters

While you may not always seek the limelight, becoming more visible within the organisation can bring several benefits:

Recognition: I read constantly in online EA forums comments about how some of you feel ignored and unrecognised by your executives but also your colleagues. It must be extremely frustrating. Increased recognition visibility can lead to greater recognition and acknowledgment of your contributions. This, in turn, can boost self-esteem and job satisfaction.

Career Growth: Being visible is more likely that you will be considered for promotions and opportunities for career advancement within the organisation.

Professional Development: Visibility facilitates networking and the opportunity to learn from peers and mentors, enhancing your skills and knowledge. If you are visible then there is a higher likelihood of being invited to team events, projects and meetings.

Enhanced Influence: How many times have you made what you consider to be a valuable suggestion only for it to be ignored by those around you? Being visible means you can have a more significant impact on decision-making processes and organisational strategies.

How to Become More Visible as an Executive Assistant

Proactive Communication: Learn to communicate proactively, both within and outside your teams. Regularly update colleagues and superiors on key projects and achievements. Proactive communication showcases competence and commitment. In simple terms, "Don't wait to be asked."

Leverage Technology: Use technology to streamline administrative tasks, freeing up time to focus on more strategic activities. Demonstrating technological proficiency can enhance your visibility as a tech-savvy EA. Embrace new technology such as AI as a tool of the future rather than a threat. Attend webinars such as Lucy Brazier OBE’s ESTech24, which is aimed at the administrative profession.

Professional Development: Continuously invest in your professional development. Attend relevant workshops, conferences, and training programmes to stay updated and expand your skill set. Look for recognised credentials to boost your profile internally and externally.

Build Relationships: Cultivate relationships with colleagues, peers, and mentors within and outside the organisation. Networking can help you gain insights, support, and opportunities for advancement.

Seek Challenges: Volunteer for challenging projects or take on additional responsibilities. Demonstrating your ability to handle complex tasks can showcase your value.

Share Your Expertise: Offer your expertise and insights when relevant. Contributing to discussions and sharing knowledge can establish you as a trusted resource.

Promote Your Achievements: This is the big one that many people, not just executive assistants, fail to do.

In some cultures, self-promotion is considered an essential part of professional development and is even encouraged. It is seen as a way of taking ownership of one's achievements and actively contributing to the organisation's success. In these cultures, modesty might be viewed as a lack of confidence or self-assuredness.

Conversely, in other cultures, particularly those that value humility and collectivism, self-promotion can be perceived as boastful or arrogant. If you feel you work in this type of culture, then prioritise team accomplishments over your individual achievements but make sure that you are included in the “team.”

Stay Current: Keep up with industry trends and best practices. Business Acumen is primarily about understanding the field that your employer operates in. Keep abreast of what is going on both internally and externally. Displaying business acumen adds to your credibility.

By becoming more visible within the organisation, you can enhance your recognition, career prospects, and influence. Being proactive in communication, building relationships, seeking challenges, and continuously developing professionally are key steps toward shedding the "invisible" tag and stepping into the limelight.

As organisations start to recognise the vital role Executive Assistants play in their success, more opportunities for visibility and career growth will undoubtedly arise.

About the Author:

Richard Arnott, BA, FInatAM, FIToL, is the Director of BMTG (UK) Ltd, and the author and lead presenter of the groundbreaking, globally recognised Advanced Certificate for the Executive Assistant: ACEA® program.

Please connect with Richard on Linkedin and please also join our LinkedIn group, "The Advanced Certificate for the Executive Assistant: ACEA®," to connect with a community of forward-thinking executive assistants committed to career growth and development.

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