Managing Up!

A roaring lion can sometimes personify how assistants perceive their executive, making the role of supporting them seemingly an ongoing challenge.

Perception being a person’s reality has the potential to stymy the effectiveness of the assistant’s position as it impedes communication.  Hesitating to speak up with ideas or when they have something important to offer will be detrimental to the role, as a great deal of intellectual property is being lost to the organization.

Assistants are constantly trying to keep executives on track with commitments and then they discover that in the meantime their executive is tending to self-manage which is so frustrating! There you are making sure all the ‘i’s are dotted and the ‘t’s are crossed, keeping all the challenges of the executive suite under control, and ‘they’ are blandly doing their own thing and not keep you in the loop.  I can hear you sighing or grinding your teeth as this scenario rings true. Frustrating?!  Yes, of course it is.  So, what can be done?

Being responsible for another person is not always easy, it is essential that the assistant understands the particular ‘style’ of their executive to be able to effectively manage them.

Handling difficult situations also builds an assistant’s professional credibility and shows strength of character, a valuable personal trait when associated with their role’s responsibilities. 

For an assistant to be truly successful, it is important that the executive fully understands the skills and expertise they bring to the table.  Once a strong working relationship has been established based on high-level confidence and rapport, the role will undergo a metamorphosis, from general support to more of a ‘managing up’ role, offering their executive a higher level of support in keeping them on track with their considerable commitments.

When the working relationship is perfectly aligned the term “Dynamic Duo’ comes to mind, where the two parties effectively interrelate to ensure the wheels of the executive suite run efficiently ensuring stakeholders have confidence in what is happening ‘at the top’.

Sometimes considered to be the executive suite’s Secret Weapon, when the executive unleashes the ‘power’ of a support position  allowing the assistant full scope to do their job, rather than stymy their progress which is surely a waste of resources when underutilized.

There is definite ‘power’ in an Assistant’s role for those who understand what it takes to be highly successful. Utilizing this power to effectively manage their executive is one that takes high level emotional intelligence, diligence and empathy for the person being supported. 

This is when the ‘Team’ comes into their own, where both parties understand the needs of each other enabling them both to be successful. Being able to ‘wield the whip, but with empathy is truly an art form’, a reflection of a highly competent Executive Assistant.

(Excerpt from ‘The Executive Experience’ – A Guide to Creating Excellence in the C-Suite)

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