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Guest blog: Tomorrow’s assistant – the skills & attributes for future success

Nick Fewings outlines the skills future assistants will need to succeed

Our guest blogger Nick Fewings, Creator of the Team DyNamics© model and expert trainer – who spoke at our June PA Life Training Day – returns with the second part of his piece on the future of the PA.

In my last article, Tomorrow’s assistant – The Changemaker, I shared my thoughts on changes within businesses that I believe will occur and that I think will provide significant opportunities for assistants. In this follow-up article I will share what I feel will be the important interpersonal skills and attributes that will support assistants in embracing future opportunities.

To clarify, I am fully aware of the myriad of job titles given to the assistant; my thoughts below are what I believe are the interpersonal skills and attributes, that will be required by those whose main responsibility, objective and focus is to support those in senior leadership positions.

Whilst such a list would be lengthy indeed I have, for the purposes of this article, kept it to four of each. These, I believe, are the essential combination that will provide leaders with an assistant who is able to support them effectively and, in doing so, help them deliver the exemplary leadership required to achieve even greater success for their teams and organisations.

I believe that assistants that support leaders should not be apart from their leadership team, but a valued and integral part of it.

Interpersonal skills
Below are the four interpersonal skills that I believe are the most important:

  1. The Strategist. Someone who is skilled in taking appropriate decisions and planning for future eventualities. Not afraid to take action and step into the shoes of the leader when they are unavailable. A person that others will willingly follow, knowing that they have the authority to take such action. They will also have the ability to see beyond the day-to-day operational tasks and consider future longer-term strategies, visions and goals.
  2. The Communicator. A person who recognises and understands that different people have different communication needs and is able to adapt their own communication style to meet the needs of others. The ability to do this both in written and verbal communication is essential.
  3. The Diplomat. Someone who through their actions, interactions and behaviours is respected by others; a person who allows others to share their ideas and thoughts openly without being dismissive of them or making snap judgements; a person who values and appreciates the diversity of behaviours, styles and the decision-making of others; a person whom others aspire to be.
  4. The Expert. A person who is knowledgeable about their role and the role of the leader that they support, i.e. what directly affects them. In addition, an individual who seeks to understand the goals of their immediate area as well as the wider organisation and constantly keeps up to speed with wider industry trends and the impact these may have on their organisation.

Last year, I undertook a survey asking people what were the key attributes they wanted to see in their leaders. I published the results in the article “Transformational Leadership: Do You Demonstrate What Your Staff Expect?”

Below are the top four attributes. As I believe that assistants, if not already, will be an integral part of leadership teams in the future, these will be relevant to them.

  1. Integrity– The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
  2. Passion– An intense desire or enthusiasm for something.
  3. Visionary– Thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom.
  4. Empathy– The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

For those of you who are aware of the colour model of human behaviour that I utilise, you may have recognised that both the inter-personal skills and attributes fall into the four top-level behavioural styles that we all have within us but to varying degrees. As such, some of the skills and attributes will come easily to you, while others will be more of a challenge.

The ability to succeed lies within us all; the key is how emotionally intelligent and adaptable we are.

In conclusion, I believe that the seeds have been sown, that change is happening. Momentum will increase, with assistants finding their voice, speaking up for themselves, for their colleagues and for the assistant community as a whole.

Be the changemakers of tomorrow.

If you have found this article of value, share it with your colleagues and others in the assistant community that you know and importantly the leaders you support.

Nick Fewings is former Change Director of Barclays PLC and a behavioural psychologist. He founded and is CEO of Ngagementworks, a learning and development company that helps many well-known brands succeed through developing their greatest asset, their people. He is also an award-winning conference speaker on behaviours, leadership, team effectiveness/engagement and creator of the Team DyNAmics© model of team engagement.

You can contact Nick direct to discuss how he may be able to support your individual/team development objectives or about a conference that he may be able to help by speaking at via

Nick is also on Twitter @NgageingNick and more articles on personal, leadership and team development can be found via

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.