Unlocking a successful partnership An executive asssistant's role in empowering directors and entrepreneurs

In this article, Sarah Howson of Strategic PA Recuitment delves into how directors and entrepreneurs can harness the potential of an executive assistant and underscore the pivotal role of trust in nurturing this collaboration.

Let’s face it, in today’s challenging business landscape, where time is a precious asset and decisions hold immense weight, directors and entrepreneurs often find themselves juggling an array of demanding responsibilities. This is precisely where a high-performing executive assistant emerges as a strategic ally. They are what we say are your ‘swiss army knives’, a business partner and someone who has your back on so many levels.

The executive assistant position is a role that is often misunderstood. A high-performing executive assistant is unique and far more than a business support function; they represent a strategic asset capable of amplifying the impact of an executive’s efforts.

Let’s delve into how directors and entrepreneurs can effectively tap into the advantages of this partnership:

Mastery of time management:

  • Delegation: Entrust routine tasks, freeing up time for essential responsibilities.
  • Effective prioritisation and boosted productivity: Capitalise on the assistant’s skills to efficiently rank tasks.

Boosted productivity:

  • Streamlined Communication: Delegate communication management to focus on core tasks.
  • Optimised meetings: Enhance meetings through meticulous planning and seamless follow-ups.

Strategic support:

  • Insightful research: Access vital data for well-informed decision-making.
  • Project management: Oversee pivotal projects with the assistant’s efficient coordination.

Cultivating relationships:

  • Facilitating networking: Forge valuable stakeholder connections with the assistant’s adept support.
  • Nurturing client relations: Sustain strong client bonds through effective communication.

The vital element is building trust. Trust serves as the bedrock of a productive director-executive assistant partnership. Here’s how to foster and reinforce trust within this collaboration:

Clear and open communication:

  • Transparent and frequent dialogue: Nurture open communication for mutual understanding.
  • Active listening: Bolster collaboration by truly comprehending each other’s needs.

Delegation as empowerment:

  • Empowering delegation: Grant decision-making authority within defined parameters. No micro-managing!
  • Precise guidelines: Provide detailed context to tasks, ensuring alignment with overarching goals.

Shared goals and vision:

  • Strategic alignment: Ensure congruence with the organisation’s mission and values.
  • Goal setting: Jointly set objectives to foster a sense of collective purpose, a continuous improvement dialogue should always be encouraged from both perspectives.

Nurturing professional growth:

  • Skill enhancement: Invest in the Assistant’s professional growth for enhanced capabilities. They are an extension of you, how can their skills be developed – support and encourage their growth journey.
  • Acknowledgement and recognition: Validate contributions to reinforce their value.

Adaptability and innovative solutions:

  • Flexibility: Embrace change and mutual adaptability to navigate challenges.
  • Creative problem-solving: Encourage inventive approaches to address complexities.

Imagine an entrepreneur steering a tech startup. Through a robust collaboration with an executive assistant, the entrepreneur can focus on innovation and investor relations. The EA adeptly handles project management tasks, manages the entrepreneur’s diary, and orchestrates investor meetings. They build relationships with stakeholders, they read a room and lead with empathy and they also are there to be your ‘eyes and ears’ filtering information that you need to hear and understand. With trust as the cornerstone, the entrepreneur can confidently delegate authority, transforming the EA into an indispensable extension of their leadership.

Directors and Entrepreneurs wield distinct skills, yet their impact is exponentially magnified through a strategic partnership with their executive assistant. A high-performing EA is not merely a support role; they bring a blend of trust, common objectives, and seamless communication. As the business landscape continues to evolve, this partnership shifts from an advantage to a necessity for sustained success.

This is a guest blog which contains the views of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the IoD. 

About the author

Sarah Howson

Strategic PA Network

Sarah is a former EA with over twenty years of C-Suite level experience. Sarah founded what is now Strategic PA Network back in 2015; she is a business support profession ambassador and is passionate about the role. Sarah’s talent for building relationships as well as her EA experience was a great foundation for launching Strategic PA Recruitment, a company focused on placing business support professionals, into organisations.

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