What support do you need from your Executive to work in partnership? This will ultimately be something that is personal to you but I wanted to share what I thought were 10 expectations that Assistants should have from their Executive to build a strategic partnership.
Because it is a partnership.
You are there to make your Executive successful in their role and you do that through a lot of different methods but it is worth remembering that their success moves the business forward so never forget that you do not work for your Executive, you work for your organisation. You work with your Executive.
So with that being said you can and should expect certain things from your Executive to make the partnership work. Here are my ten expectations.
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 how they communicate.
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 round too. 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 for them to support your growth and provide teaching points to help you learn.
As a strategic Assistant you also need to be able 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, but 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 you are working ina strategic partnership it is really important that you take on work that challenges you and grows your knowledge and skills. This is scary for so 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 come up with creative solutions to problems. It’s partnership, and no one should be thrown under the bus.
Lead and inspire growth
It is important that you 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 do the thinking 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, want to know what their Assistant has going on at home and talk through any issues that their Assistant might be having. Happy Assistants make excellent Assistants!
It is really important that strategic Assistants 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.