Sharing is Caring: Essential Qualities Executives and Their Executive Assistants Must Share

All great business partnerships are give and take.  Here are four qualities executives and executive assistants must share to be successful.

Values and Goals: Together, evaluate your business’s mission statement.  Why does your business do business? What are the long-term and short-term goals?  Gaining a clear understanding of what you want to achieve in the next 6-, 12-, and 18-month periods will help you and your executive assistant better assist each other.  Articulate your strategic plan and allow your assistant to help interpret that vision and pave a road to success.  Your executive assistant is an extension of you; not informing them of your strategies for growth is the equivalent of skipping leg day at the gym—you become unbalanced, only one side of your business grows, and it’s simply not a good look.  In order to be prosperous and profitable, your entire team needs to be on the same page.

Work Ethic:  One of the most important considerations when searching for an executive assistant is their flexibility and work ethic.  You and your EA are two peas in a pod.  You should both possess the same sense of urgency, the same strong desire to succeed and the willingness to do whatever it takes to get there.  Your EAs role is to aid in your success, not slow you down.  Executive assistants are meant to contribute to the productivity and efficiency of your business.  As a leader, it’s your job to clear the path for success, and as your follower, your EA should take advantage of every opportunity afforded to them.  Ensure your work styles are compatible with one another.

Trust and Transparency:  Your EA handles sensitive aspects of your business, such as meetings, client relationships, and finances and, often, your familial responsibilities.  They facilitate your day-to-day activities by understanding the nuances that come with certain client relationships and even certain times of the day (whether you’re a morning person who is more productive before noon, or you get a little cranky if you haven’t had lunch by 2:00PM).  After a business trip, they receive your receipts to compile an expense report and ensure you are reimbursed appropriately.  Your EA is involved in every aspect of your life in some way; do you trust him/her to make decisions in your absence? Do you trust him/her to tell it like it is?  Without a trusting, transparent relationship, the longevity and success of your partnership looks grim.

Support: In 1975, Paul Allen supported Bill Gates in his decision to drop out of Harvard University so the duo could found their own computer software company.  It was a risk, but they took it together; a year later, Microsoft was registered with the Office of the Secretary of State of New Mexico.  The rest is history.  No matter the risk or the adventure, it’s important for both you and your executive assistant to have each other’s back.  If that deal you’ve been working on for months tanks, they will be that shoulder for support in the aftermath.  If they’ve suddenly had an emergency at home, they will look to you for the green light to allow them to tend to those matters fully—mutual support goes a long, long way.