As an EA with over 15year’s experience at C-Suite level I can confidently say ‘yes’ to this question. Anyone who disagrees should continue to read and hopefully you will have changed your mind by the end of this article.
There are many ways that a PA/EA can be classed as a manager but let us start with the first and main reason…they manage the boss! Whether this is a Head of Department, Managing Director or CEO their PA is running their working life (and maybe even their personal one). They tell them where they need to be, supplying them with all of the relevant information and if you have a strong relationship with your boss, you are deciding who they meet with and what emails they see.
This could be quite a power trip to many and I could see some people thinking that this is the job they want but a good PA/EA doesn’t see it this way. They understand the power they have is not in the information or control they have over the daily life of their boss but in the trust their boss puts in the them. We ensure that they only meet the people they need to and what crosses their desk is relevant.
As with other managers within a business we also manage our own workload on a day to day basis, deciding what we will work on and when. To do this we communicate effectively with all levels of the organisation, most PA/EAs could run through their company’s organisational chart from memory, they know who does what and therefore who they need to speak to. They are always the ‘go to’ person no matter what it is you require…a walking, talking encyclopaedia of company information!
There is also a lot of time spent ‘firefighting’, ‘trouble shooting’ and ‘thinking on their feet’. When their boss asks them a question they are expected to know the answer. Managers must be on top of things in order to be able to update their own boss. It is also true that a good manager will not take a problem to their boss without having a solution, this is most definitely true of any effective PA/EA.
On top of all of this they must have a good understanding of the business from a commercial and strategic point. How can they manage their boss effectively if they don’t understand what their boss does? We sit in board meetings, we action points and chase those involved, whether this is a manager, director or CEO!
However, a specific skill does set all PA/EAs apart from many managers (although thankfully not all), we must always be cool under pressure! We represent our boss at all times and everything we do or say is a direct reflection on them. We also have developed other managerial skills such as leadership, planning, flexibility and emotional intelligence.
If you’re still not convinced that a PA/EA is a manager why not try to find someone in your business, who has probably received no training and who isn’t even viewed as a manager with this skillset? I can guarantee you’ll only do so in once place.