Building a partnership takes an awareness of your EQ

Originally published on IAAP edge

As assistants, more often than not, we don’t take into consideration at the interview stage the importance of ensuring that you and your future manger “hit it off” and “click” on an intellectual and professional level. We need to be asking the right questions on whether we will fit with each other. We all have a built-in psyche which lets us know this, and tells us whether a person we meet is someone we will get along with. Sadly, we choose to go the easy route in pursuit of the need to be employed, earn more money, and climb the corporate ladder. Important needs, for sure, but sometimes regretful.

This is all because we have not equipped ourselves emotionally. As in any relationship, we grow and develop based on who we partner with. Ask yourself why marriages fail, why friendships fall apart, or why our children become rebellious. It all boils down to making sure, from the start, that we ourselves are adequately equipped emotionally to deal with what life throws at us. What do I mean? I am referring to one’s EQ, your Emotional Quotient. If you are an overly emotional person who is easily offended, reacts to situations with outbursts of emotion, and doesn’t know how to deal with people in a professional and intellectual way, you will have trouble adapting to creating a strategically balanced partnership with your manger.

Building a relationship that is founded on mutual respect and trust is one of the first steps in ensuring you will be an asset in your manager’s work life. Maintaining a level head and a balanced emotional state will allow the relationship to evolve into a fantastic partnership. Understanding the leadership style of your executive is also important in building this partnership.

Our managers are also prone to “bad hair days” and mood swings—it’s only human. If you adequately equip yourself to maneuver around the hiccups, you will find that these otherwise irritating emotional behaviors and outbursts from your manager will not get you down or make you feel inadequate. Every high level executive that I have met expects their assistant to have the same professional values they do. They don’t want to see us cry over mistakes we may have made, but to rather react with a positive affirmation to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and then for us to get the issue sorted out as quickly as possible.

We are the ones who need to start the process of building the strategic partnership, working hard to maintain it and persevere to grow it. We are the ones who manage them, who organize their days, and arrange their lives. We have to therefore ensure that we have the emotional resources to cope with their varying degrees of behavioral and leadership traits.

Here are some tips to helping you cope emotionally with your manager:

  • Avoid being offended by the small stuff.
  • Crying in the office, for work that you have messed up on, is a no go. Take it on the chin and move on.
  • Losing your temper and displaying outbursts of disapproval is a sure way to show your immaturity.
  • Let your outer self always display confidence and professionalism, and teach your inner self to “let it go”.
  • Understand your manager’s leadership type and work with it, not against it.
  • Own your feelings—no one can make you feel bad, or inadequate, or incomplete, except yourself.

As assistants we need to realize that part of our role as planners has evolved into becoming strategic planners. We need to evolve beyond the boundaries that have confined our profession for many years and up the ante in the way we think, the way we react, and the way in which we manage our emotions. Be brave and be challenged by becoming a valuable strategic resource to your management team.

The Executive Leadership Support Forum is proud to professionally develop EAs from across the country. EAs that know their worth are much likely to speak and manage up in critical situations

If you have not attended an Executive Leadership Forum in the past, we hope to see you at one of our upcoming forums in New York, Seattle, Minneapolis, or Dallas. If you have attended one or more Executive Leadership Forums, we encourage you to describe your experience in the comments below. The Executive Leadership Support team is endlessly thankful for all of the past, present, and future attendees.