Every Executive Wants a “Donna” from Suits

Every Executive Wants a “Donna” from Suits

If you have ever seen an episode of the legal drama “Suits”, you have met the “Donna”.

The “Donna” is the true superpower behind the high-powered lawyer Harvey.

Donna takes being an Executive Assistant (EA) to a new level – a strategic level.

After she books the meetings, gets the coffee, and finished the filing, she runs the office and makes deals happen. She anticipates needs before they are requested, takes action to satisfy client needs, goes above and beyond to show care and thoughtfulness, remembers everything, and she makes everyone around her look like superhero’s.

Harvey cannot live without her!

Every C-Suite leader does not necessarily need a “Donna”, but imagine what could get accomplished if your Executive Assistant was fully leveraged? By leveraged, I mean, utilized to their fullest extent.

Executive Assistants are powerful people and big organizational assets because they know the organization well, they are in contact with lots of people, and they see and hear everything.

Many C-Suite leaders speak to a scarcity of time. What would your day look like if your EA was fully leveraged?


Take Anna.

Anna is an ambitious and energetic Executive Assistant that has been with Candace (Executive VP) for 5 years, and she has great knowledge of the organization.

Anna begins her day by setting up the conference room for the morning breakfast meeting. She lays out the food, sets up the technology, places all the materials, and makes sure to place a birthday card for one of the client’s birthdays (she had a reminder on her calendar). She has brought in a special cupcake to give to the client as Candace mentioned they would not have time for cake after the meeting.

With the conference room up and ready, Anna reviews her and Candace’s emails and tags any important emails for Candace, and triages the remaining ones to bring up in their daily meeting. While reviewing emails, Anna notices a request for Candace to speak at a conference. Candace loves speaking opportunities and is always open to engaging them, so Anna reviews some literature on the topic and determines that this conference would be a great opportunity for Candace and sees that the location would work well based on her schedule. Anna goes ahead and replies a level of interest and requests more details on what would be needed from Candace.

Anna then reviews Candace’s files for the day and notices that an important email came through that morning regarding one of the files, so she includes it. She also notices an error on one of the forms, so she makes the change and reprints the form.

While placing the files on Candace’s desk, Anna notices that Candace’s side cooler is getting empty, so she makes a note to order more bottled water for Candace to offer clients.

Upon completion of the morning routine, Anna gets a text from Candice stating that she is running 10 minutes late. Realizing that they will now miss their 10 – minute pre-meeting briefing, Anna sends Candace the names of the people in the meeting she has not met before, and some details to engage in some small talk.

Anna then prepares to welcome the guests and keep them happy until Candice arrives.

Anna is a fully leveraged EA! She is thinking and acting like the vital organ she is for the organization. She is responding to the moment and preparing for the future.

Many organizations only think of their assets in terms of capital, equipment, technology, etc., so they often overlook and undervalue the true capacity and abilities of their most important asset – people, and specifically their support team. Imagine the possibilities if your EA was fully utilized!


Leadership Challenge:

Write out 10 things your EA could take off your desk today that would create space in your world and fully utilize your EA. Implement as soon as possible!

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