Clear and consistent communication
Strategic Assistants want clear expectations and communication when it comes to what’s expected of them.
A huge problem Assistants have with their Executives is a lack of communication. It is important that your Executive creates a culture of open communication with you and is consistent in communicating.
Honest and open
There’s nothing worse than an Executive who says one thing and does another. I’ve written a lot about building trust with your Executive and how you can gain their trust, but it does work the other way around. Strategic Assistants have to trust their Executive to have their best interests at heart.
Give and receive feedback
The best Assistants want to grow in their role and crave mentorship from their Executive. Even with a very busy Executive, you should expect them to support your growth and provide teaching points to help you learn.
As a strategic Assistant, you also need to provide feedback to your Executive and offer differing points of view. It goes back to them being open – that works with feedback too.
Create personal connection
It is so much easier to be a strategic business partner if you have a personal connection with your Executive – in other words, you like them! You shouldn’t expect your Executive to open up the floodgates and share every detail of their personal life. Still, you should expect them to create a personal connection with you so that there is an ‘easy intrusion’, you know their priorities outside of work, and you both like working together.
Enable space for failure
When working in a strategic partnership, you must take on work that challenges you and grows your knowledge and skills. This is scary for many Assistants because we are often perfectionists and people pleasers, which means failure is a scary prospect! Assistants who trust that their failures will be met with constructive feedback and support are more likely to have confidence in what they can do and develop creative solutions to problems. It’s a partnership, and no one should be thrown under the bus.
Lead and inspire growth
You must have room to grow in your role, take on new challenges and feel motivated. You should expect your Executive to want that for you too. You should expect your Executive to be passionate about the work, interested in growing the business and bring their team with them on that journey.
Focus on the big picture
If your Executive doesn’t know where a project or the organisation is going, how can you know? This isn’t just about action steps or deliverables, either, but a clear vision of the department or company’s future that they can communicate to you.
Focusing on the bigger picture also means not micromanaging their Assistant! Strategic Assistants need their Executive to delegate. They shouldn’t interfere in the day-to-day and minute-to-minute workflow or processes that you have been tasked to complete.
Amanda Vinci, one of the coaches on our Strategic Business Partnership Programme, talks about helping your Executive make decisions. She says, ‘they pay us to think so that they can make the decisions’. The more quickly and effectively your Executive can make decisions, the better you can implement them, and that will make you feel more efficient and effective.
Understand and respect boundaries
Everyone wants to find a job that fits their work-life blend. Great Executives understand that there needs to be a balance between meeting the objectives of the business and the work-life balance of their Assistant. Executives should take the time to make that personal connection, know what their Assistant has going on at home, and talk through any issues they might have. Happy Assistants make excellent Assistants!
Strategic Assistants must hold themselves accountable for their work, but it is even more important for Executives to hold themselves accountable for the partnership to work. This means adhering to the same guidelines they set for their team and taking responsibility for both successes and failures. If you feel like your Executive has your back, no matter what, you will be much more comfortable and confident in your role and will produce better work.