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The Pragmatic Executive Assistant


Executive Assistant Training Courses

Throughout my career I have always been referred to as a pragmatist. Initially I really didn’t understand why people would say that about me as I was just being me. I have always challenged the status quo, have always asked “Why do we do this” and never accepted that things cannot be improved. I guess it was this inherent ability combined with the type of role (Business Transformation they would call it today) that I was working in in my early career that combined gave me an opportunity to be pragmatic.


Pragmatism centers on the concrete outcomes and practical implications of ideas, beliefs, and actions. It underscores the usefulness and efficacy of concepts in addressing real-world challenges and guiding decision-making, while highlighting empirical observation and flexibility over rigid adherence. To me this means that every rule and every process can be challenged and change will only come after the detailed analysis of facts and data


Pragmatists prioritize effective problem-solving, adaptability, and an open-minded disposition, valuing concepts as functional tools for forecasting and elucidating real-world occurrences. This perspective seeks to bridge theory and application, urging individuals to consider context, participate in experiential learning, and make ethical judgments based on their wider consequences for individuals and society.


In the role of an executive assistant, embracing pragmatism entails adopting a down-to-earth and practical approach when it comes to tasks, decision-making, and problem-solving. The primary objective is to ensure the seamless and efficient functioning of daily operations. To start to develop your pragmatism skills you should focus on some key areas:


Effective Scheduling and Time Management: A pragmatic approach involves giving precedence to scheduling meetings and appointments based on their urgency and significance. While factoring in the executive's availability and commitments, it's crucial to maintain a realistic outlook regarding time constraints.


Skillful Prioritization: Recognizing that not all tasks can be addressed simultaneously is a cornerstone of pragmatism. By exercising discernment, tasks can be prioritized based on factors like impending deadlines, alignment with the executive's objectives, and their impact on the overall workflow.


Facilitating Decision-Making: Providing the executive with succinct and pertinent information aids in efficient decision-making. By presenting well-researched options complete with their pros and cons, you empower the executive to make informed choices promptly.


Practical Problem-Solving: When confronted with challenges, pragmatism shines through in the identification of solutions that are workable within the confines of available resources and time. Avoiding convoluted and intricate solutions that may prove unfeasible in the given circumstances is central to this approach.


Strategic Communication: Selecting the most apt communication method for different scenarios underscores pragmatism. Sometimes, a quick phone call may outpace the exchange of numerous emails, particularly when time-sensitive matters are at hand.


Optimal Resource Allocation: Pragmatism extends to the allocation of resources—whether it's budget, personnel, or time. Striking a balance between efficiency optimization and alignment with the executive's goals is of paramount importance.


Effective Conflict Resolution: In moments of conflict, focusing on middle ground and compromise paves the way for smooth progress. Striving for solutions that satisfy all parties involved reflects the pragmatic ethos.


Streamlined Process Enhancement: Identifying opportunities for process streamlining serves as an embodiment of pragmatism. This may involve introducing new tools or reconfiguring workflows with the aim of economizing time and resources.


Adaptive Flexibility: Acknowledging the possibility of unforeseen changes underscores the practical mindset. Adaptability and the ability to recalibrate plans to accommodate emergent developments or urgent tasks are indicative of pragmatism.


Continuous Feedback and Refinement: Regularly assessing support effectiveness and actively seeking executive feedback encapsulate a pragmatic stance. This feedback loop facilitates practical adjustments and enhancements to your approach.


Realistic Expectation Setting: Transparently defining achievable expectations for yourself, the executive, and team members aligns with the pragmatist's creed. By avoiding excessive promises and ensuring alignment with designated timeframes, you foster realistic outcomes.


Thoughtful Risk Evaluation: Delving into potential risks tied to decisions or actions echoes pragmatism. Suggesting feasible and congruent mitigation strategies underscores the alignment of this approach with organizational goals.


Vendor and Supplier Relations: Engaging vendors and suppliers within the bounds of practicality entails the negotiation of terms and agreements that yield organizational value while adhering to budget constraints.


Emergency Preparedness: The pragmatic stance extends to contingency planning for diverse scenarios. Ensuring continuity of the executive's responsibilities during unexpected disruptions exemplifies this approach.


Meticulous Documentation: Maintaining accurate and well-structured records, while avoiding the creation of undue bureaucracy or workflow impediments, is emblematic of pragmatism in documentation practices.



Remember, pragmatism doesn't mean sacrificing quality or innovation. It's about finding the right balance between achieving optimal results and working within the limitations of time, resources, and circumstances. Be the Pragmatic Executive Assistant!

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