6 Leadership Traits of a True Office Professional

6 Leadership Traits of a True Office Professional

Did you know that a Personal Assistant role is actually a leadership role?

An assistant role can often be simplistically viewed as a diary manager or the person who answers the phone – but the truth is that the role is a lot more complex than that. A PA often has to manage not only their executive but also support the wider team. They need to liaise with stakeholders of varying levels of seniority, as well as juggle multiple tasks, events, deadlines and packs. And so much more!

The PA role has a high level of people interaction and influence, similar to a leadership role. Here are six ways that a PA demonstrates leadership traits:

Emotional intelligence

As a PA interacts with so many people – they often need to have the ability to read people, pick up when someone is not themselves or when there is tension in the air.

Business acumen

A PA becomes invested in the business – through sharing industry articles, attending meetings, preparing presentation or briefing packs, answering questions or helping to make key business decisions.


PAs need to create and maintain rapport and effective working relationships with a wide range of key strategic contacts – internal people from different levels and roles, as well as external stakeholders.

Influence and negotiation skills

PAs need to chase information for deadlines, get that meeting booked into that challenging calendar, and also defer when someone is pushing for time with your busy executive.

Team morale

The PA can often be a large influence on the wider team culture and engagement – such as remembering people’s birthdays, organising gifts for special occasions and coordinating social activities. It’s sometimes seen as the ‘fluffy’ stuff but it matters to people and builds strong team morale.

Personal investment

PAs work HARD. They can often be on call or expected to respond at any hour of the day or night, depending on their exec’s workload or travel. As well as doing their own job, they can also be expected to do their executive’s tasks as well. But they do it all because it comes with the job and they are committed. They want to see their director succeed.

How do you know if you are successfully leading as a PA?

  • Your executive trusts you with more responsibility and work related tasks or decisions, including acting on behalf of them when they are away (instead of someone else stepping in)
  • The executive’s team are open and trusting with you, and you have good working relationships with them
  • You have a positive personal brand – people within your organisation or external stakeholders proactively seek out your work, view or input
  • You have a direct contribution to building positive team engagement
  • You proactively provide insights, information or alerts relevant to your executive’s line of business
  • You have other executives asking you to support them as well (or if you can come and work for them!)
  • You are asked to lead or mentor junior assistants
  • Your peers seek out your advice and support – and you don’t get involved in gossip
  • You consistently receive positive feedback or recognition

There are many ways to lead as a PA, which can also benefit your future career development. The more experienced you become within the PA role, you will have a greater opportunity to develop your skills and business acumen, as well as your leadership traits. The key to this will be the support and development you receive, as well as your self-awareness and commitment to improving your skills and abilities.

Ask yourself – how can you be a leader within your role today?


Michelle Robb

Michelle Robb is a Career Coach, writer and speaker who is passionate about empowering corporate women to build a career and life that they LOVE! With an Advanced Diploma in Management, a Certified Life Coach and over 15 years experience in leadership roles, Michelle has coached and mentored hundreds of women in places such as Optus, Telstra, Macquarie Bank and through her own business, Michelle Robb Coaching. When Michelle is not helping women find happiness and success, she can usually be found with her friends and family, eating delicious food and coffee, and then burning it off on the Coogee to Bondi walk!


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