strategic partnership executive and assistant

The Pieces of the Whole: Uncovering the Anatomy of a Strategic Partnership

As more and more executive/assistant teams learn about the power a strategic partnership provides, I field a growing number of questions about what exactly a strategic partnership entails. I think it’s impactful to look at a strategic partnership in the way doctors examine a human body. The human body is comprised of a number of vital systems, some visible, others not, all working together in unison to create one miraculous being. That’s much like a strategic partnership. Several key elements must be present in order for the team to transition to a strategic partnership. In this blog, we’ll put our lab coats on and take a holistic look at the anatomy of a strategic partnership. 

The Systems at Play

I think we can break down a strategic partnership into a few fundamental systems, including the brain, the heart, the soul, and the attitude. It’s only when each of the systems is up and running that a strategic partnership can take life.

The Brain:

The first system we’ll examine is the mind or the brain of a strategic partnership. In a strategic partnership, both team members are fully present and engaged throughout the workday. That means they both recognize that they are cognitive beings. When they approach a project, situation, or task, they first take the time to think through each phase they’ll need to tackle, from beginning to end. They are not robotic! Each member of the partnership leverages their own skills in a powerful and cohesive way. Executives feel empowered to focus on their role, allowing their assistants to provide the critical support they need. If both members feel worried about what the other person is doing or not doing, the relationship can’t progress to the level of strategic partnership. Trust must be a vital part of the partnership, and trust can be obtained when the partnership uses its brain! When a strategic partnership is achieved, you’ll see two people who have stellar communication, functional organization, effective time and project management, productive meeting preparation techniques, cooperation, and individual self-management. These elements of the brain allow them to become a successful and powerful duo.

The Heart:

The next system we’ll take a closer look at is the heart. No one can exist without a heart, and the same is true for strategic partnerships. In a strategic partnership, you’ll see two people who deeply care about one another, including each other’s successes, happiness, and struggles. They know when the other person is going through a difficult time, experiencing life changes, or celebrating momentous occasions. They express empathy, concern, compassion, and sympathy naturally with each other. When one person is experiencing something that may impact their working life, the other steps in, often without needing to be asked and helps them out. Why? They are connected at a fundamental level, even though they may be two very different people. They have learned to step outside any differences and have achieved a truly meaningful connection with their partner. Don’t dismiss this system as touchy-feely! It’s not, and it is absolutely critical to the success of a strategic partnership. It simply can’t be achieved without heart. While some professionals may worry that this close-knit relationship can be both tough to achieve and may feel odd or out of place, I encourage you to think about it from a different perspective. Executives and assistants spend a huge portion of their lives together. Why would you avoid developing the heart of that relationship? We all work better and feel happier at work when we have some connections with the people we share that time with.

The Soul:

The next system we’ll analyze is the soul. When two people have become strategic partners, they have begun really using their own emotional intelligence. Daniel Goldman defines emotional intelligence as, “the ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection and influence.” It’s not easy to get in touch with one’s emotional intelligence, and it’s even rarer to find two professionals working together who are both emotionally intelligent. It only happens in strategic partnerships. This system, though, the soul, is so crucial to a successful strategic partnership. Picking up on things unsaid, sensing the feelings of another person, and understanding the power of human energy is a complex task. Strategic partnerships have an underlying power, their soul, that has allowed them to go beyond superficial connections and really understand and connect with another person.

The Attitude:

The last system we will zoom in on is the attitude of a strategic partnership. When a strategic partnership has been established, each team member deeply roots for their colleague.  They believe strongly that they are a solid team that can tackle anything together. They become each other’s cheerleaders and feel strongly that they are a part of each other’s success. They have learned to fully accept each other’s quirks, differences, and unique personalities, respecting that the uniqueness allows them to both bring something incredible to the table. When any challenges, changes, or obstacles come their way, they face them together and know they have the power to work through them. They respect and appreciate each other’s points of view. They have evolved to a point where they truly respect and admire each other’s work but still feel comfortable offering candid, constructive criticism. They know they really depend on each other, not in a co-dependent way, but in a healthy, synergistic way. Their outlook is always positive. If they have a hard day, they don’t let that disrupt their attitude. Instead, they embrace that they will come back tomorrow better and bolder. They share a can-do attitude.

If you’re doubtful that the descriptions above can actually be achieved between an executive and their assistant, let me dispel any notions that suggest they are fake. They DO exist! It’s the ideal many teams strive towards. In fact, it’s often in that very act of striving that teams begin to evolve. The pushing forward matters. Trust me – you can achieve it!

The Doctor Is In

If you’re ready to have a checkup and see how you and your leader are doing, 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, become strategic partners with their leaders, and reach incredible levels of professional success. 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!


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