Top 14 Skills that defines a Rockstar Administrative or Executive Admin Professional
A stellar Administrative Assistant can be a company’s secret weapon.
“Administrative Assistant/Executive Assistant” used to be synonymous with things like scheduling, bookkeeping, and arranging travel. Not so today.
While these functions are still an important part of the job, these days admins are tasked with a lot more. Often, Admins take on front-line strategic functions traditionally relegated to HR or operations – things like onboarding new hires and event planning.
When it comes down to it, Admins are expected to keep things running smoothly, no matter what it takes. Think of them sort of like the “utility player” in baseball. They’re Jacks- and Jills-of-all-trades, expected to perform at a high level in a ton of different situations.
So it makes sense that today’s Admins need a wide array of skills in order to succeed in this challenging role.
But what are those skills? And what separates the good admins from the great?
That’s exactly what we asked our community of rockstar admins. Here are the skills that really pay the bills.
1. Creative Problem Solving
Since an Admin’s main responsibility is to keep things on point, problem-solving is an indispensable skill.
The more they are able to effectively troubleshoot, the more valuable they become in their position because they keep everything moving smoothly.”
Creativity and the ability to improvise, according to Hnat, is a necessary part of the equation at companies of any size.
2. Proper Etiquette
Admins interface with people every single day. All sorts of people.
Like Office Managers, Admins are one of the few people in a company (other than perhaps the CEO or senior HR staff) that deal with employees at every level.
Of course, this isn’t limited to internal interactions. The Admin role is almost always forward-facing. If you’re an Admin, you’re often the gatekeeper for a department or executive, handling incoming calls, reaching out to vendors, or speaking directly with high-level execs at other companies.
That’s why good manners and etiquette are so important.
3. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence refers to a knack for understanding—and even influencing—emotions in ourselves and others. The most successful Admins have emotional intelligence in spades. Here’s why:
Emotional intelligence makes people easy to work with. Admins attuned to the emotions of others achieve better results from negotiations and other interactions. Emotional intelligence translates to better outcomes in dealing with all people and all situations, making it a must-have skill for Admins, who have to request work, perform work, and negotiate about work with tons of people.
Emotional intelligence helps people manage the emotions of others. This ability to read people helps Admins anticipate the needs of bosses and other key associates. For example, guessing that a boss is unhappy with a report gives an ambitious Admin the chance to win favor by redirecting or reframing the conversation.
Emotional intelligence makes conflict resolution a breeze. Understanding emotions makes dealing with emotions, even negatives ones, easier. And knowing how to deal with emotions gives Admins the tools to resolve any conflict.
Emotional intelligence makes stress easier to manage. Emotionally intelligent Admins can recognize the signs of their own stress and realize it’s time for a meditation break.
4. Foresight and Anticipation
The best Admins don’t need to be told what to do. They anticipate the solution before the problem even becomes a problem. These Admins rise from being super helpful to being indispensable, the secret weapons bosses just can’t live without.
The [Admin] can be the Exec’s best friend, and if they’re thinking one step ahead of them, you’re going to stand out.”
“Since their work involves so many different aspects within a company, they have a distinct ability to predict potential challenges and outcomes.”
As we’ve noted before, an Admin’s responsibilities are wide and varied. Often, this means being able to stop on a dime and pivot towards a completely unrelated project. Things change quickly, and the best Admins can react and adapt with ease.
For example, if the boss suddenly reveals a spontaneous trip that will send her out of the office for the next two weeks, her Admin needs to spring to action, clearing her schedule while effectively communicating with all affected parties to avoid hurt feelings and bruised egos. In this situation, there’s no time to stress out and spend hours deciding what to do.
6. Meticulous Organization
It might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s super important. When you’re working on a ton of different projects, you don’t have time to waste duplicating work due to a lack of organization. Plus, organization helps reduce stress, and it also stops important work from “falling through the cracks” both literally and figuratively.
Whatever your method, organization is definitely a must-have Admin skill.
7. Having a “Servant’s Heart”
First coined by Robert Greenleaf, the term “servant-leader” has made its way into the management lexicon as of late. It refers to a style of leadership that puts the well-being of others first. In practice, this means focusing on personal and professional development, and viewing one’s main responsibility to be to support the success of one’s team.
This idea of “service” is just as important in the Admin role as it is in a leadership role.
“This is very important. A rockstar executive or administrative assistant WANTS to serve their leader – whether the task is big or small. A strong admin knows that by helping achieve their boss’s goals they will achieve their own.”
Great Admins are selfless, and know that their willingness to pitch in for the team helps ensure both the team’s success and their own.
The ability to improvise, think on your feet, and come up with solutions of the fly is one of the most important traits an Admin can pick up.
You must be able to think on your feet – whatever the problem, a rockstar admin will find a solution!”
We’re all familiar with Murphy’s Law – anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
Well, the business world is not immune – far from it. Anyone who’s ever managed a project knows that challenges are inevitable.
Same goes for the Admin role. At some point, things will go sideways. Servers crash, phone systems go down, vendors flake, flights get canceled, people quit.
This isn’t just about being resourceful. It’s about being strong enough to stand up to any situation. A rockstar Admin doesn’t crumble under pressure. The best ones persevere, rise to the occasion, and get the job done. That’s true grit.
Here’s how Admins can cultivate true grit, sometimes called resiliency:
Socializing with coworkers. Socializing releases oxytocin, which reduces susceptibility to stress.