Working collaboratively with your Executive

Tips & Tricks on working more collaboratively with your Executive

Being able to establish and maintain a cohesive and trusting relationship with your executive, is key to the EA role. We see them at their best and worst, they put trust in us to support them and they expect us to be many things outside of our traditional EA role – a mind-reader for one ???? But not all of us find it easy to work fluidly or collaboratively with our executive, and this is where I am here to help. There is no greater relationship in the workplace than that of an executive and their EA. I truly believe that because of the experience I have had – I have been fortunate to have worked with wonderful bosses who truly saw me as a strategic partner. Follow my tip and tricks on improving your professional relationship and creating a partnership with your executive.


  • Communicate to clarify perceptions and understand expectations: understanding perceptions and setting expectations is key to ensuring that the partnership is mutually understood. Areas of grey don’t work so ensure that both parties understand each other. Having a conversation is incredibly helpful in creating a solid foundation. Even if you have been working with your executive for a while now, it’s never too late to have this conversation, because over time we grow – our skills increase, our areas of interest change and we continue to develop. Ensure that you have purposeful conversations with your executive – that sit separate to the daily diary meetings!


  • Understand that it is a two-way street: organisations talk about how important it is for the executive to trust their EA. But what about the other side of the coin? How many EAs trust their executive enough to speak up if something isn’t working, ask a question if they aren’t sure, suggest flexible working (or just a Friday off) or tell them something personal about themselves? EAs invest a lot in their executives but it is a two-way street. Make a connection with your boss that starts the ball rolling on a professional, collaborative, trusting and supportive partnership.


  • Understand where and how you can step-up: at Capital EA, we mentor a lot of APS EAs and in speaking with their executives, many tell us that they wish their EA would trust their own ability, build confidence and step out of their comfort zone. Understanding that you can and should go Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (ABCD) will make a huge difference to how you work with your boss, and how much the trust increases. Try small steps to build your confidence – speak up in a meeting, create an agenda item that is yours, draft emails for them, implement a process that saves them time, or put your hand up to work on something new with them.


  • Understand that you are a leader and influencer just like your executive: in our ‘The EA Leadership Journey’ workshop, we introduce the concept of EAs as leaders and influencers, and we focus on unleashing that potential. We are our executive’s cultural touchpoint to the team and wider organisation. If you see an issue, speak up and offer a solution – if you think an all-staff email doesn’t read well, include some tracked changes and send it back. They will thank you! The best EAs think, act, and work with others to minimise crises, make decisions, and save their executives time. And they use their intuition, judgment, business knowledge, motivational techniques, and personal leadership to become an integral element of their executive’s life.


  • If you want to be in a partnership, act like a partner: read everything, understand the bigger picture, attend meetings with your boss (or even better, save them time and represent them), ensure your meetings don’t get removed from the calendar, go the extra mile (ABCD!), understand what motivates your executive and learn what is important / what is a priority.


Achieving a true partnership and working collaboratively with your executive will allow you to grow as an EA and have longevity in your role. It really is a win-win for both sides!


Want to learn more about partnering and collaborating, managing up and unleashing your leadership and influence potential? Sign up today to our leadership workshop on 20 February!

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