Resilient, approachable, collaborative, warm, dependable, authentic, trustworthy… You will have your own views on what these words mean but one fundamental opinion that combines all EAs is that we are all of these things. And we have to be to get our jobs done.
A person I used to work with many years ago was a very unpleasant individual and didn’t succeed in her position because of how she conducted herself. She was utterly convinced that if her role title was changed from EA to Senior EA, she would automatically get the respect she deserved – her words not mine – and nobody could tell her any differently. This, of course, was not how it worked.
Instead, as you will know, gaining buy-in from everybody we interact with is key to our own success as EAs… And, subsequently, key to the success of our boss and wider organisation. Quite simply, our reputation is everything and relationship management is extremely important for EAs. We cannot deliver without our colleagues and peers on the same journey with us, it’s just not possible. And, unlike my previous colleague, we don’t automatically get that buy-in. Proactive management of our stakeholders is necessary. But it’s rarely easy and never just simply given.
Five ways to supercharge your relationship management
Being chief of staff, although becoming more in demand, is still very much misunderstood and we can’t assume that what we do and why is widely known. Therefore, we need to be a key communicator, working with trust – which we have earned, of course – while recognising that we’re operating with a level of ‘narrowed’ trust from across our organisations. As you are the closest person to those at the top, it’s not uncommon for us to be treated like some out of space creature, with caution!