The Executive Assistant Is An Undertold Story
Former Aetna CEO speaks out on the powerful role EAs play
A colleague of mine recently posted an interview about me on social media. She was fascinated by the response, which featured an impassioned discussion among a group of executive assistants (EAs) who had worked together during my time at Aetna. They all emphasized the same themes: teamwork, leadership, excellence, and accountability. Of course, these are also some of the themes that get a lot of coverage in my book.
This story reminded me of an often-overlooked reality—that without the help of talented, dedicated EAs, many of the world’s most successful business leaders would be toast!
EAs fill a unique role. They understand their bosses’ responsibilities and goals, and they perform countless tasks every day—some small and some gargantuan—to ensure that everything that happens tracks to those responsibilities and goals. They often are viewed as a representative of their leader, internally and externally, and therefore set a tone for that person’s office. The result is a business environment that may appear seamless to the outside eye but couldn’t exist without many hours of hard work from the EAs. This is why a 2014 Harvard Business Review article that studied EAs from a return-on-investment standpoint found that well-trained assistants generally boost productivity, creating far more value than their cost would suggest.
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