How to Build a Strong Professional Relationship with Your Executive

Jessica Gardiner

We’ve got some tips on one of the most important aspects of being a personal / executive assistant: building a strong professional relationship with your executive. This bond is the backbone of your work, helping everything run smoothly and efficiently. So, let’s dive into some quick and easy strategies to foster a connection that’s not only professional but also genuinely supportive and collaborative. 

Understand Their Working Style 

First things first, you need to get a handle on your executive’s working style… 

– Observe and learn: Pay attention to how they prefer to work—do they like early mornings or late nights? Are they detail-oriented or big-picture thinkers? 

– Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions about their preferences. It shows you’re proactive and eager to support them in the best way possible. 

– Adapt and adjust: Flexibility is key. Be ready to adjust your own working style to better align with theirs. 

Don’t know where to start? If you notice your executive tends to tackle complex projects in the late afternoon when they seem most energetic, try scheduling your meetings or critical tasks during that period. By aligning your workflow with their peak productivity times, you’ll not only enhance your efficiency but also demonstrate your attentiveness and commitment to their success. 

Communicate Effectively 

Communication is the cornerstone of any strong relationship, especially in a professional setting… 

– Be clear and concise: Executives are busy, so make sure your messages are to the point and clear. 

– Regular updates: Keep them informed with regular updates, but don’t overwhelm them with unnecessary details. 

– Active listening: When your executive speaks, really listen. Show that you value their input and are ready to act on it. 

Don’t know where to start? If your executive prefers brief email updates, summarise key points in bullet form and highlight any actions required. This way, they can quickly grasp the essentials without wading through lengthy paragraphs. Additionally, during meetings, repeat back what you’ve heard to confirm understanding and show that you are actively engaged. This approach not only clarifies communication but also builds trust and ensures alignment on tasks and goals. 

Be Proactive 

A great executive assistant anticipates needs before they arise… 

– Stay one step ahead: Try to foresee potential issues or needs and address them before they become urgent. 

– Take initiative: Don’t wait for instructions—if you see something that needs doing, do it. 

– Offer solutions: When presenting a problem, always try to come with a few potential solutions. 

Don’t know where to start? If you notice your executive has a critical meeting scheduled right after lunch, consider preparing their favourite coffee and a quick briefing on the meeting’s agenda beforehand. This not only ensures they are well-prepared but also demonstrates your foresight and dedication. By anticipating their needs and proactively supporting them, you’ll significantly enhance their efficiency and effectiveness… 

Maintain Confidentiality 

Trust is the foundation of your relationship, and confidentiality is a big part of that… 

– Discretion is key: Keep sensitive information strictly confidential. This builds trust and shows your executive that they can rely on you. 

– Secure information: Whether it’s physical documents or digital files, ensure all confidential information is securely stored and only accessible to those who need it. 

Don’t know where to start? If you overhear a confidential discussion about a person or project, resist the urge to discuss it with colleagues, even casually. Additionally, ensure that any related documents are stored in a locked drawer or a password-protected digital file. By consistently practicing discretion and securing sensitive information, you reinforce your reliability and the trust your executive places in you. 

Be Dependable and Reliable 

Your executive needs to know they can count on you, come rain or shine… 

– Consistency: Deliver high-quality work consistently. Reliability is one of the most valued traits in an assistant. 

– Punctuality: Be on time, whether it’s for meetings, deadlines, or everyday tasks. Punctuality shows respect for your executive’s time. 

– Follow through: If you say you’re going to do something, make sure you do it. No excuses! 

Don’t know where to start? If your executive relies on you to prepare the weekly report every Friday morning, ensure it’s always ready and on their desk before they arrive. If an unexpected issue arises, communicate promptly and propose a revised timeline. Demonstrating unwavering reliability, even in challenging situations, will strengthen your executive’s confidence in your support and build a strong, trustworthy partnership. 

Foster a Positive Attitude 

A positive attitude can be incredibly contagious and beneficial in a high-stress environment… 

– Stay upbeat: Keep a positive outlook, even when things get tough. Your energy can help lift the entire office. 

– Be supportive: Offer encouragement and support, not just to your executive but to your entire team. 

– Handle stress gracefully: Show that you can remain calm and composed under pressure. It will in still confidence in your executive. 

Don’t know where to start? If a project deadline is suddenly moved up and the team is feeling the pressure, maintain a cheerful and can-do attitude and remind them you are there to support them on the overarching goal of the project. By staying positive and supportive, you’ll help create a more resilient and cohesive team, and your executive will appreciate your ability to keep spirits high in challenging times. 

Invest in Professional Development 

Continual growth and learning are essential for staying at the top of your game… 

– Seek feedback: Regularly ask for feedback from your executive to understand how you can improve. 

– Upskill: Take courses or attend workshops to enhance your skills and stay current with industry trends. 

– Self-improvement: Invest time in your personal and professional development. The better you are, the better you can support your executive. 

For example, if your executive mentions needing help with advanced data analysis, consider taking a course in Excel or data visualisation tools. Not only will this make you more valuable to your executive, but it also shows your commitment to enhancing your capabilities. By continuously seeking ways to improve, you’ll be well-equipped to meet new challenges and contribute effectively to your executive’s success. 

Click here to Invest in your personal career development by joining thousands of business support professionals who have already taken their growth in their own hands with The Assistant Room membership.

Remember, a strong relationship with your executive isn’t just about making their life easier—it’s about creating a dynamic duo that can tackle anything together. What are your thoughts? Email us on hello@theassistantroom.com to share your advice on working successfully with your executive.

Share this:

Our Founder Honoured on Management Today’s 35 Under 35 List

Tamara Rudd

The Vital Role of Investing in Your Growth as a Personal or Executive Assistant

Let's cut to the chase, what's the one common downfall we've encountered over the lifetime of The Assistant Room? Assistants sabotaging their own success
Jess | Editor In Chief

The PA Diaries: 5 Minutes with Chief of Staff Zoe Hill

Meet Zoe Hill, Chief of Staff at Arcade Media.
Jess | Editor In Chief