Dec 28 / Sarah Calderon

Beyond the Desk: The Strategic Advantage of Executive Assistants in Leadership Meetings

Hey EA!

As the strategic partner to your executive, there's a game-changing secret you might not be leveraging – taking a seat in leadership meetings. This will transform how you execute your role every day. Let me show you how:

When I first started my career as an EA, I didn’t make a lot of requests. I completed tasks as assigned, attended meetings as requested, and looked for small proactive ways to make my executive’s life a little easier. And I worked like that for years.

Really, there was nothing wrong with what I was doing. I supported six leaders who were all really happy with what I was doing. However, as time went on, I began to feel that there had to be more I could do to position myself as a strategic partner.

I just wasn’t sure what that was.

Fast forward several years. I began supporting an executive who set the expectation that I would attend every meeting with his leadership team. Every time he met with his direct reports, I was expected to attend. And this invitation wasn’t for me to take minutes. Hundreds of meetings later, and I have never once taken meeting minutes. I am there as a direct report, as an active participant, as a contributor to the conversation.

This single invitation permanently changed the way I work.

This single invitation put me in the position of a strategic business partner. Not only for my executive but his entire leadership team.

Here are a few ways I make the most of my attendance in this meeting:

1. I contribute to the conversation.
My opinion and perspective matter just as much as anyone else’s. I speak up when I have something to share.

2. I schedule follow-up meetings.
There is often the need for a follow-up meeting or additional conversations with other project stakeholders. I capture those requests in real-time and often have them booked before the meeting concludes. This is a huge time-saver for everyone!

3. I track action items, deliverables, and reminders. When there is a request for updated project documents by next Friday, or HR provides a deadline, or an agenda topic needs to be pushed to the next meeting; I will send reminders, put a deadline reminder on everyone’s calendar, or update the agenda accordingly. In general, I help everyone stay organized and on track.

4. I stay close to business priorities.
Hearing the latest in business developments and priorities gives me enough context to proactively manage my executive's calendar. I know what meetings he needs to be in based on priorities, and I can identify meetings that he might want to push out a bit (I will usually confirm this during our regular check-in meetings).

EA, if you can make one change this year to dramatically improve how you work it should be attending leadership meetings. All meetings where your executive’s direct reports are present, you should be too.

Do this over Q1, then reach out to me at and tell me what has changed! I can’t wait to hear your success stories!