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Mastering the Art of Anticipation: How Executive Assistants Can Proactively Support Their Executives

Linda, my wife, has developed an astute, ability to predict my every words and actions. She often states, "Richard, I've been married to you for nearly 40 years...I know exactly what you are going to say and why you are going to say it". I am 100% sure that those of you with partners recognise this trait 😊.

The ability to anticipate needs before they arise is not just a valuable skill but a defining trait of a strategic partnership between an Executive Assistant and their Executives. Executive Assistants who master the art of anticipation elevate their roles from administrative support to indispensable strategic collaboration. Anticipation enables Executive Assistants to stay steps ahead, effectively mitigating risks, optimising opportunities, and ultimately enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of their executives' endeavours.


Understanding Anticipation

Anticipation is more than just predicting future events; it's about intuitively understanding the needs, preferences, and objectives of your executives. It involves a keen awareness of their schedules, priorities, and importantly communication styles. Anticipating effectively requires proactive observation, active listening, and a deep understanding of the organisation's goals and dynamics.


Developing Anticipation Skills

  1. Study Executive Patterns: Pay attention to recurring patterns in your executive's schedule, behaviour, and decision-making processes. This could include their preferred communication channels, meeting schedules, and response times.

  2. Stay Informed: Keep yourself updated on industry trends, organisational developments, and relevant news that may impact your executive's responsibilities. This broader perspective enables you to anticipate potential challenges and opportunities.

  3. Build Trusting Relationships: Cultivate a strong relationship with your executive based on trust and open communication. A trusting relationship encourages executives to share their thoughts, concerns, and upcoming plans, enabling you to anticipate their needs more accurately.

  4. Ask Probing Questions: Don't hesitate to ask clarifying questions to gain deeper insights into your executive's goals and expectations. Understanding the underlying motivations behind their actions helps you anticipate future needs more effectively.

  5. Embrace Technology: Leverage technology tools such as calendar management software, task tracking applications, and artificial intelligence assistants to streamline administrative tasks and free up time for strategic thinking and anticipation.

Applying Anticipation in Practice

  1. Pre-emptive Problem-solving: Anticipate potential challenges or obstacles that may arise in upcoming projects or initiatives. Proactively develop contingency plans and solutions to address these issues before they escalate.

  2. Synchronise Schedules: Anticipate scheduling conflicts or overlapping commitments and take proactive measures to resolve them. Coordinate meetings, travel arrangements, and deadlines to ensure optimal time management and productivity.

  3. Provide Timely Information: Anticipate the information needs of your executive and provide relevant data, reports, and updates in a timely manner. Anticipating their questions and concerns enables you to pre-emptively address them, saving time and facilitating informed decision-making.

  4. Facilitate Strategic Planning: Anticipate future opportunities for strategic initiatives or partnerships aligned with the organisation's goals. Present well-researched proposals and recommendations to your executive, demonstrating your proactive approach to driving organisational success.

  5. Continuous Improvement: Regularly evaluate your anticipation efforts and seek feedback from your executive to identify areas for improvement. Reflect on past experiences to refine your anticipation skills and adapt to evolving needs and circumstances.



Mastering the art of anticipation is a continuous journey that requires dedication, observation, and adaptability. By developing this essential skill, executive assistants can transcend the traditional boundaries of their roles and become indispensable strategic partners to their executives. Anticipation not only enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of executive support but also contributes to the overall success and resilience of the organisation in navigating complex business environments.

About the Author:

Richard Arnott, BA, FInatAM, FIToL, is a Director of BMTG (UK) Ltd, and the author and lead presenter of the groundbreaking, globally recognised Advanced Certificate for the Executive Assistant: ACEA® program. Richard also sits on the editorial board of Lucy Brazier OBE’s Executive Support Magazine

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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Valutazione 5 stelle su 5.

I love to be able to know the theory of wuat I try to apply in my work.

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