3 min read

Coaching and Mentoring - How invaluable is it for Executive Assistants?

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I want to talk about Coaching and Mentoring and how invaluable it is for the Executive Assistants in their unique role working with Senior Leaders.

Long gone are the days of Secretaries typing up memos, now the EA is an integral part of how a Senior Leader builds their business. The role comes with high levels of pressure and demands utmost trust. While highly rewarding, the role can often be a lonely one with nobody in the team performing the same role and the other EAs in the company working differently based on their relationship with the person they assist.

  • To whom can the EA turn?
  • How can the EA grow their career?
  • How do they know what they are experiencing is correct and appropriate?

In my business I focus on supporting senior leaders, specifically brilliantly Neurodiverse ones. I have many overlaps with EAs through becoming the confidante on the inside. This confidence is only gained through building unwavering trust.

I know how important coaching and mentoring has been for me in my career. I am proud of my ADHD but only discovered this relatively recently. Before knowing, I just struggled to understand what was expected of me. I leaned heavily on mentors and coaches for validation and guidance. I can look back on a successful career in an Investment Bank, HSBC, and a ‘big four’ consultancy, Deloitte. Whether I should have been there in the first place is a different matter! Hand on heart, if I hadn’t had mentors and coaches to help me grow I would not have succeeded.

As a person I see myself as a natural coach and mentor. I better be as it’s now my job! I have coached and mentored for nearly 30 years and am proud to have helped many people in their careers. One in particular I often think of is a junior graduate who was going nowhere when I met him. He had ADHD and a number of family challenges. His team had effectively cast him aside. I saw in him a younger version of me. Through a blend of mentoring and coaching we built a trusting relationship in which I helped him develop the confidence in himself to grow his career. He is now a successful Senior Manager.

Difference between Coaching & Mentoring?

This is a very blurry line. Coaching works on the basis that the coachee is the expert, and the coach is there to help bring out what the coachee wants and needs to do based on their goals. Mentoring is slightly different, it as a blend of education and coaching. The mentor is typically somebody already experienced in the role the Mentee performs and as such can help steer the Mentee as they grow their career. They have been there, seen it, done it and got the t-shirt.

I have the pleasure of working with Lily Shippen and the team. They haven’t paid me to say this, but I truly believe they have built a gem of a business supporting the EA community. They are not just another recruiter. What makes them unique is the care they take in focusing on what an EA needs in their career and helping them find it.

I see the EA mentoring initiative Lilly Shippen is starting to offer as a natural extension of what they already offer to support the EA community. The offering gives EAs access to people who have lived and breathed the same role with the rewards and scars to show for it. With the Mentor being external to the Mentee’s organisation there is no conflict of interest and the Mentor can focus purely on helping the mentee be the best that they can.

Through mentoring an EA will realise they are not alone and be able to feel part of a community all helping each other. 

What is not to love about it!