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Thanks for an important reminder, Margaret, that the Executive Secretary/Assistant position is the only civilian job that involves tandem mutual dependency. The function is completely unique. The subordinate frequently exercises immense delegated powers despite no formal authority and is the gatekeeper for access to and orders from the executive. Daily activities may be unplanned and unpredictable, because they are based solely on the executive's current and ever-changing priorities.

Conventionally structured bureaucratic pay classification systems are incapable of dealing with such symbiotic working relationships, especially when the actual principal job responsibility is "whatever the boss needs at the moment." Their essential lack of control over daily job duties is also why the executive secretaries/assistants usually report the highest degree of work stress.

Fair pay for them is highly problematic. I'll never forget what the CEO said when I challenged his submission of a request for a hefty increase for his assistant without an accompanying performance appraisal: "Trust me." I did. In later years, I learned a lot more about the function that confirmed that decision.

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