8 Ways to Create a Positive and Powerful Relationship with Your Executive Assistant

You may have seen or heard of successful long-time leader/Force Multiplier (a.k.a. Executive Assistant, Chief of Staff, Executive Business Partner) partnerships such as Conan O’Brien and Sona Movsesian, President Obama and Reggie Love, Eric Schmidt and Ann Hiatt, John F. Kennedy, Jr. and RoseMarie Terenzio, Sara Blakely and Kenya Graham and Lisa Magazine, and of course, my own story with Hallie. And I’m guessing you probably want to create that type of partnership, too! I mean, why wouldn’t you? A partnership built on trust, respect, loyalty, commitment to a common vision, a partner to push through challenges and projects with, someone to tell you when you’re being completely unreasonable and someone to build you up when imposter syndrome creeps in. Not to mention, the insane amount of value, contribution, and work product that you can create together when you are working toward a common goal, each rooted in your strengths. Sounds pretty good, right? Well then, you’ve come to the right place!

These types of partnerships are not built overnight. They require a commitment and desire from both parties to be in partnership. And now, more than ever, people want to partner with companies and leaders who take the whole person into account. They want to go to work somewhere—and with someone—where they can truly be themselves and be celebrated for it. They want to work smart and have their hard work matter. The next generation of leaders must be just as committed to their spiritual growth as they are to their branding, business plans, and the bottom line.

Leaders who want to create positive relationships and powerful partnerships with their Executive Assistant and/or Chief of Staff will require them to become conscious leaders. But what does being a conscious leader even mean? 

Conscious leadership is made up of three main areas: (1) awareness, (2) knowing that you can engage with the mind as a tool but don’t have to be ruled by it, and (3) being able to stay centered no matter what comes your way. 

Here are eight signs that you are a conscious leader or that you are working with one. You can also start to develop your conscious leadership skills, by reviewing the below. 

1. Conscious leaders stay neutral.

Building a business and leading a team can certainly be a test of your patience, willpower, resilience, resolve, emotional fitness, and more, especially when that team member is a Force Multiplier who is all up in your business. But remember, that’s their job! So this is the perfect time to practice staying neutral. When you have clients calling to complain about an employee – you stay neutral and centered. When your team just hit their biggest month of sales yet – you stay neutral and centered. When your Force Multiplier challenges your thinking – you stay neutral and centered. This just means that you are dealing with your team and business without allowing your energy to get disturbed (positively or negatively). 

Warning: Do not mistake staying neutral with being indifferent. Rather, staying neutral simply allows you to listen, respond, make decisions, and act with increased clarity and better judgment. 

Staying neutral means that you, and your Executive Assistant, will not be riding the emotional roller-coaster that is so characteristic of most Hollywood depictions of the leader/assistant relationship (i.e. The Devil Wears Prada). Instead, even when emotions run high, you are conscious enough to take a beat, re-center yourself, and then re-engage in the conversation or move forward with the best decision for the organization.

2. Conscious leaders are very self-aware.

To be a conscious leader means being a self-aware leader. Self-awareness comes from a commitment to questioning who you are and your motivations, it means studying your behavior and personality, it means being willing to go inward and look at your flaws and strengths without judgment. 

These leaders know who they are, how and why they act the way they do, where they tend to push boundaries, when they look for loopholes, how they communicate, and much more. By being self-aware, these leaders play to their strengths, instead of working on improving their weaknesses, and they teach and encourage their team members to do the same. 

With this level of self-awareness, and humility when needed, true trust can be developed between a leader and their right-hand partner.

3. Conscious leaders serve and contribute. 

Conscious leaders are not concerned with what they can “get” from their team and their business, but rather about how they can serve and contribute. This might sound counter-intuitive as you work to build a positive relationship with your Executive Assistant. I mean, aren’t they supposed to be serving and contributing to you?

Well, yes, and… conscious leaders take this quote from Zig Zigler to heart, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” Conscious leaders know this and make it a part of their day – every day. 

If you need a quick practice to ensure you keep serving and contributing top of mind, try this: every time you pick up the phone, open a door, or get out of your car in the morning, use it as a sign-post to remind you that you are here on Earth, at the office, on that phone call, in order to serve whoever is in front of you. From that foundation of servant leadership, a conscious business with other conscious leaders can be born. 

4. Conscious leaders let go of the outcome. 

As a leader, it’s really important to know what you can and can’t control. You can control how tactical and comprehensive your career development programs are. You can’t control whether or not your Force Multiplier takes advantage of them. Conscious leaders let go of the outcome of who does what, how people respond, or even how a decision turns out. Instead, they focus on their actions and activities in the moment.

In addition, conscious leaders let go of the personal need to be right or for a particular outcome to come to fruition. In the example above, a leader may let go of the outcome of their employees putting in for a promotion. However, that leader will still make sure they are providing the coaching, training, and accountability to set their employees up for as much success as possible. They will create a clear path. Invest in continuing education. Give encouragement and tough love when needed. What they won’t do is fill out the applications or write their employee’s resumes for them, nor will they get personally attached to whether or not they do take action. When conscious leaders let go of the outcome it allows them to remain clear, calm, and neutral for whatever else might come their way. 

5. Conscious leaders do not bother themselves about the moment. 

Much like letting go of the outcome, conscious leaders understand that whatever moment, challenge, or experience is in front of them is not the problem. The real problem is that they are bothering or disturbing themselves about the moment in front of them.

Your Vice President is late for another meeting? A client leaves a less than favorable review? Your Executive Assistant double books you again? Sure, those are all less-than-ideal situations. But think about this. An Executive Assistant working at another company who double-books their Executive is not even on your radar! Which means the situation with your EA in and of itself isn’t the issue. What is, is your reaction, response, and mental gymnastics about the issue. You end up bothering yourself! 

But conscious leaders do not bother themselves about the moment. They stay neutral. They let go of the outcome. They get clear on how to separate their personal self from the issue at hand. And then they get to work serving the moment (and the rest of their team) to the best of their ability. Yes, this may mean speaking to an EA about their performance or even firing someone, but it is all done consciously and from a centered place. And believe me, your EA (or any employee) will appreciate the feedback when you give with this level of calm and clarity!

6. Conscious leaders are curious.

One of the cornerstone habits of a conscious leader is staying open-minded and open-hearted. Cultivating curiosity is key. Great leaders listen and ask questions in order to find common ground with whatever issue is at hand. By being open to listening to (and encouraging) different perspectives, ideas, and viewpoints, leaders will ultimately make better decisions for their organizations.  

7. Conscious leaders have a clear vision. 

Having a clear vision is one of the three most important things a leader must do. What are your guiding principles? What do you value? How does your company live out this vision? It is your job (and your Force Multiplier can help!) to spread the vision through every conversation, in every interaction with the media, and through social media, marketing, and branding. Some people will love it (and you), and some people will hate it. But by sharing the vision, you will attract the people who should be in your life and who will help you grow your business.

The more inner work you do, the stronger and more clear your vision will become, because it will be aligned with your true self. Do the work to get this clarity. Your business and team will thank you for it.

8. Conscious leaders lead themselves first.

Guess what? Trying to force people to do what you want or need them to do is not leadership, and it will not get you very far in business or in life. Leading yourself at the highest level so people want to be around you and follow your example is what makes an outstanding leader and great business. Leadership is influence. And one of the best ways to influence others is to lead yourself first. Self-leadership precedes leadership.

I, like many others, became an entrepreneur because I wanted freedom. However, I quickly learned that without daily routines, habits and structure (and a great Force Multiplier), my business would end up owning me and my time instead of the other way around.

Make it a priority to invest into your personal and professional growth: Study leadership principles, read books, listen to podcasts, meditate, journal, fuel your body with proper nutrition, take a cold plunge, sleep well, and exercise—every day. Setting your intentions, your vision, and following through with your plan doesn’t just help you grow, it helps everyone around you level up, too.

A leader who knows how to lead themselves to bigger and better things in life and business pushes themselves to do what they do, in part, in service to those that depend on them. People watch leaders more than they ever listen to what they say. So, I’ll ask you, how are you showing up?

When you talk about your early morning hike, run or yoga class, or mention “AHA”‘s from a podcast, course you are taking, or book you are reading, others will sit up and take note. You’ve probably done this same thing! Have you ever heard someone you look up to talk about yoga—or something of the sort—and suddenly you are searching Google for a local hot yoga studio? That’s self-leadership in action. When you better yourself, you better those around you, and there is no better way to lead yourself first than by focusing on your internal world and sharing those experiences with others. 

Self-leadership is particularly important when working on creating a great relationships with you EA. An Executive Assistant’s success is so closely tied to their Executive’s success. Leaders must continue to grow and increase their leadership lid, or their EA may outgrow them.

Conscious leaders who truly embody and practice the above practices are the leaders who will thrive and grow in any economic market. They are the leaders who will be able to effect change and lead their businesses and entire industries. They are the leaders who will be able to create positive, powerful, and long-lasting relationships with their right-hand partners. When you show up as the best and most conscious version of yourself, you influence others to do the same and create an inclusive space for growth and expansion. 

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