What Makes A Good Personal Assistant Great?


A PA or EA is a great career. You have the opportunity to work with some of the most interesting and successful business people, be in the thick of things or on the sidelines, make leaps in your career and diversify your role in the blink of an eye. All if you’re in the right role for you.

So how does a Good PA become a Great PA?

There are several key skills to being a great personal assistant, doing all of them and doing all of them exceptionally makes the difference. A key to that is teaching your boss to work with you and fully utilise your current skill-set whilst giving you the opportunity to develop it even further.

So, what are those skills you need to focus on?


A Great PA is unflappable. They can think on their feet, work through a solution quickly and calmly, prioritise and, of course, communicate effectively. This might mean up, down, internally or externally to your organisation but, whatever it is, you need to ensure it is appropriate, effective and clear. The ability to deputise for your boss in meetings or write emails and reports on their behalf, is highly prized.

Interpersonal Skills.

Getting the measure of people is imperative to being a Great PA. You will often be in stressful and pressurised environments in which you need to know how to keep your cool, as well as that of those around you. Add to this the fact that the PA is often the voice and face of the company; and the importance of interpersonal skills is paramount – your negotiation skills and written work should exemplify you amongst your peers.

Research and Knowledge.

It is no longer good enough to master the standard elements of a PA role. To add value and stand out as a truly great PA you need to understand the business and industry you are in. Knowing the terminology is a great start, but can you apply it well? Are you able to write a concise report to update your boss? If someone asks you about the firm’s strategy, are you able to give a considered, educated response? Being able to demonstrate a good understanding will go a long way to winning the confidence of others in your abilities, which will in turn lead to far more opportunities to take on extra projects, therefore increasing the value you add to your employer.

Innovation and Proactivity.

Putting your stamp on things by improving efficiency is rarely shunned. Keeping abreast of what your boss is working to achieve and proactively assisting with this, will not only be welcomed but will also ensure your continual development. Take note of what is around you and how you could improve it. Could you update the intranet? Write presentation templates to save time and preserve brand integrity? Perhaps source equipment and suppliers or manage ad-hoc projects? Within this comes positioning yourself as the office go-to expert when it comes to IT skills – your world will function far more smoothly if you are IT literate and can make the variety of programs and devices work for you, your boss and your colleagues.

Time Management, Planning and Organisation.

Fundamental to being a PA, let alone a great PA, is making these skills work for you. Some people are naturally gifted organisers for whom things seem to melt into place. Not so! These mere mortals have devised and employed some simple techniques to such a degree that it is now just how they function. Many great PAs use a traffic light system to ensure things are on track. Green is working, amber needs attention and red means attention now! Simple exercises like dividing your diary or ‘to do’ list and blocking time in your own (and often this means your boss’) diary gives you breathing space. Today, tomorrow, this week, next week are good parameters to start with. Delegation is a skill often missed when considering the core of the PA – to ensure that you are on track is to ensure that others are delivering to their deadlines too. Following up actions and keeping on top of where others are, will keep you on track too.


An unsung skill but present in every measure of success. If you can assess what you need to achieve, you can work out how to get there. Making a plan and focusing on the key elements will ensure you achieve it. Write down the steps you need to take or the landmarks you are working towards and be relentless in making sure you achieve them. Small tasks quickly become insurmountable when left to fester on the sidelines! If you know what you are working towards, focusing on each task individually allows you to quickly tick off the things that eat your time.

We know PAs. We meet over a 1000 PAs every year and have invested a lot of our time and resources into ensuring you have the skills to be a great PA.

ISE Partners can provide you with access to a complimentary coaching and development programme that will give you the skills to achieve your goals.

If you are interested in learning more about this, or would like to sign up for our complimentary seminars to help you in your career, please enter your contact in the link below.

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Till next time,