A common question I hear from administrative assistants and executives alike is, “How can I become a better partner and build a stronger relationship?” It’s something we all yearn for, and it’s something that many of us understand is a vital piece to professional success. In this industry especially, we rely upon each other. Executives need their assistants to support them, and assistants need their executives to embrace them and respect their role. It’s a complex, bidirectional relationship that can’t grow and evolve without both parties being committed to its success.
As I’ve emphasized over the years, the pinnacle of an executive/assistant relationship is a strategic partnership. A strategic partnership means that assistants become business partners with their leaders. They work together to achieve goals. Assistants become a part of the big-picture decision-making process, and executives carefully listen to their teammate’s recommendations and feel empowered to delegate important tasks to them.
A strategic partnership is a few steps beyond teamwork. It’s not just a leader giving instructions to their assistant. Instead, it’s more of a cohesive relationship that involves two people who are on the same page from the very beginning. It’s a powerful alliance, and when achieved, one that is often unstoppable and capable of incredible feats. In this blog, we’ll explore the concept of a strategic partnership and help you and your leader find the path toward building one.
What Are The Benefits Of A Strategic Partnership?
Finding your way to a strategic partnership takes effort and time. It’s no easy feat. So, wouldn’t it just be easier to be a good team? Sure, but there are a number of powerful benefits to teams that put in the work and achieve the level of strategic partnership.
- Both team members understanding the “why” behind things
- Becoming a stronger unit capable of incredible levels of success
- Both team members understanding how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together
- The big picture becoming clear
- Both team members having the ability to zoom in on specific projects and tasks with greater understanding and clarity
- Ongoing and constant forward progress
- Deep levels of trust and understanding
- A more open, candid relationship
- Less time spent on spelling out instructions and expectations because you’re both already on the same page
- A greater ability to pivot quickly when needed
- Insight into every aspect of the relationship allowing for effective troubleshooting and course adjustments
- Less unnecessary work stress
- Both team members feeling more comfortable and at ease creating a more productive partnership
The Evolution Of A Team
Executives and their assistants make up a team, albeit a small one. From the moment a team like this is paired up, they begin a process of evolution. When this process is a positive one, meaning both parties are working together to better understand each other, grow together, and unite towards the same mission and vision, they begin making great strides towards achieving the level of strategic partnership. Generally speaking, this process has three phases.
- Phase one: Learning to work together. During this critical phase, both executives and assistants are finding their footing and really working to deeply understand their teammate. They want to get a feel for their counterpart’s tendencies, work habits, communication style, winning skills, common struggles, and overall attitude. Consider this the “getting-to-know-you” stage. During this stage, it’s important to remain openminded and observant. Be inquisitive, asking lots of questions with the goal of gaining a deeper understanding of your teammate.
- Phase two: Developing a partnership. During this important phase, a two-person team begins to forge a partnership. The understanding of who each other is doesn’t stop. In fact, it becomes even deeper and more intentional. You’ll dig deeper into your partner, learning new things about them like their professional values, the scope of their role within the organization, their professional and educational history, and likes and dislikes. During this stage a fundamental shift should happen. Each party should begin to really see the other as an asset. They should begin relying more heavily on their teammate in a variety of ways.
- Phase three: Synergy. This phase is certainly the most rewarding one. It only happens when two people have navigated phases one and two, put in the hard work, and taken the time. What happens during this phase is that two people are really able to click, despite whatever differences in views, opinions, or experiences they may have. You’ll see partners who have reached this phase know what the other person is thinking before they say it. They are able to anticipate each other’s needs, rely upon each other’s judgement, and feel taken care of. What comes next is rarely a question. They both know what the other person needs and where their focus is.
If you’re just starting out or have been together for a while but haven’t had luck in deepening your relationship, it’s important to take time and focus on the earliest phases first. Getting those phases right is paramount and will allow you to move even closer to developing a strategic partnership. Don’t be afraid to put in the work! Getting there will be a journey but understand that phase three is a powerful by-product that is a direct result of putting in the work during the other two phases. You’ll get there if you’re both willing and ready.
The Executive's Competitive Edge
The Executive's Competitive Edge is a groundbreaking book that offers strategies for building a successful strategic partnership with your Executive Assistant to enhance your leadership skills, increase your sphere of influence, and achieve measurable results.
Forging The Bond
Are you and your leader ready to become strategic partners? Do you think your relationship will grow stronger if you put in the work and become united in your efforts? If you’re ready to find the path and are eager to learn more, Office Dynamics can help. We developed a huge library of resources called the Success Store that focuses on helping executive assistants master all the key functions required in their role. The Success Store includes a massive library consisting of books, certification courses, eBooks, live virtual training, and on-demand training that can help assistants level up and reach new heights in their careers. But we don’t stop there. The Office Dynamics menu of services covers every single element an administrative assistant needs to continue their journey towards becoming a star. You’ll find a vast array of training options, both in-person and virtual, that will help you grow in your career. We’re proud to be the lions of the administrative training industry and feel our deep experience and expertise are vital pieces to our own success. We love helping assistants grow. Click here to learn more!