The Partnership Model: Building a Strategic Business Partnership

We all know how fast-paced our world is today. It is non-stop. Our Executives have so little time to dedicate to anything outside of the never-ending hamster wheel of meetings and deadlines. We know this because, as Assistants, we manage their schedules and try our utmost to keep them on track, build in downtime, and ensure they have a lunch break at some point! As a result, it can be challenging for Executives to invest time and energy into building a strategic partnership with their Assistants.

Let’s face it—we know they have a lot on their plate. However, for a successful and productive working relationship, Executives must treat their Assistants as equals and work together in a partnership. It is a no-brainer. If the partnership works well, the Executive actually has more time to dedicate to strategic work, and, equally as important, the Assistant feels engaged, challenged, and valued. 

Assistants, in this article, we will share how you drive the formation of this partnership forward and how you proactively build a strategic business partnership with your Executive. 

The Importance of Investment

Executives are busy individuals, and it may seem counterintuitive for them to invest time and energy into their Assistants. However, to build and maintain a strategic partnership, Executives must bring their Assistants into their confidence, treat them as equals, and foster a partnership. This can be a challenge for Executives who may not know how to build such a partnership or get the best out of their Assistants.

The Return on Investment

To convince executives of the value of investing in a partnership with their assistants, it is essential to show them the return on investment (ROI). In her Harvard Business Review article, Melba Duncan, “The Case for the Executive Assistant,” provides a compelling argument for the ROI of a skilled Assistant. For an executive with a total compensation package of 1 million annually, working with an assistant earning 80,000, the organisation needs the Assistant to make the executive 8% more productive and break even. In reality, a good Assistant can save their Executive much more than that, making the ROI substantial.

Meeting Agenda for Assistants and Executives

1:1 Meeting Template

The template you need to maximise the time spent with your Executive.

Questions to Ask a New Executive

Use this guide to work in sync with your Executive from day one.

The Partnership Model

Jerry Wisinski’s book, “Building a Partnership with Your Boss,” provides a valuable framework for moving from a traditional assistant-executive relationship to a true partnership. The model consists of four stages: Tell, Explain, Consult, and Empower.

  1. Tell Stage: The Executive makes decisions and informs the Assistant of the result. There is no dialogue or discussion.
  2. Explain Stage: The Executive makes decisions, informs the Assistant, and is willing to explain the reasons and entertain questions or discussions.
  3. Consult Stage: The Executive presents a scenario, asks for the assistant’s thoughts, and decides based on both parties’ input. This stage signifies the beginning of a strategic partnership.
  4. Empowerment Stage: The Executive presents a situation, indicates faith in the assistant, and gives them the authority to make decisions. This stage represents a true partnership and an empowered relationship.

Moving Forward

To assess where you are in your relationship with your Executive, consider the following questions: Can they give you an assignment and let you complete it without interference? Do they provide you with credit privately and publicly? Are you asked to represent them or the department at meetings? Have you been asked to serve as a team member or leader?

By understanding the partnership model and assessing your current position, you can work with your Executive to move through the stages and reach an empowered partnership. This will make you more productive and allow you to excel in your role.

Take the initiative to build a strategic business partnership with your Executive. Join our online course, The Strategic Business Partnership Online Course, to learn more about the partnership model and how to implement it in your working relationship. Empower yourself and your Executive to work together more effectively and achieve greater success.