Managing Up as an Executive Assistant

by | Jan 19, 2024 | Blog, Executive Assistant

A managing up strategy involves four key categories: understanding the executive you support, aligning actions with their professional goals, serving as a resource to help overcome obstacles, and showcasing how they can effectively leverage your strengths.

Building a collaborative relationship with a focus on a shared purpose aligned with the executive’s strategy is crucial for success as a strategic assistant. This partnership opens doors to success, benefiting not only your current role but also your overall career. It enables you to allocate the executive’s time more effectively, facilitating their success. Executive assistants play a significant role in enhancing both the executive’s productivity and that of the entire organization.

The concept of managing up involves skills that are not explicitly stated but are deeply ingrained and persistently applied over time. It’s about the assistant consistently anticipating needs, fostering open communication, and actively contributing to driving the business forward. In essence, managing up is an enduring practice where these skills, though not explicitly mentioned, play a continuous and integral role in maintaining a positive and effective partnership with the executive.


Know Your Executive

Keen observation and the ability to read the moment are crucial skills when managing up. It’s essential to recognize emotions and thoughts conveyed through both voice and body language. Ask clear and direct questions to gain insight into their professional and personal goals, company mission, and planned next steps, all while effectively managing up. Be intellectually engaged in understanding what matters to the executive at any given moment, and always confirm details and expectations.

An executive assistant should be well-versed in their executive’s goals, objectives, and desired outcomes, crucial elements in managing up. If there’s any lack of clarity, schedule a one-on-one meeting to address it. Additionally, observe and understand the executive’s communication style, including their preferred method—be it email, phone, or in-person communication—important considerations for managing up. Gain insights into the executive’s role and position within the company. By observing these factors, you can better tailor your assistance to meet their needs while effectively managing up.


Align Your Actions with Their Career Objectives

Maintaining ongoing accountability in communication with the executive is crucial for being an effective support system, a key aspect of managing up. Periodically, you may need to seek support from the executive, whether it’s for approval of a request, opportunities for further education, or increased access.

To raise awareness and gain executive support, it’s helpful to express the need in a way that emphasizes efficiency and time savings, essential elements when managing up. For instance, you could say, “To enhance your efficiency and save time in my daily assistance, having access to [insert request] would be beneficial.” It’s your responsibility to demonstrate how your request aligns with the executive’s professional goals and benefits them, demonstrating effective managing up skills. Taking initiative, showcasing your knowledge and skills, and actively reducing the executive’s workload contribute to the hidden talent of a professional executive assistant.

Confidence in making decisions and executing tasks on behalf of the executive will expand your role, diversify your responsibilities, and result in appropriate recognition and compensation. For instance, you might propose drafting responses to certain emails or letters and presenting them to the executive for feedback, a proactive approach to managing up. The better you understand the executive, their goals, and the current status of their business plan, the more effectively you can suggest actions that are acceptable and beneficial in the context of managing up.


Serve as a Valuable Resource for Executive Development and Problem Solving

Instead of viewing areas for improvement as weaknesses, consider them opportunities for development. Rather than pointing out shortcomings, focus on your role as a problem solver. Your purpose is to assist executives in becoming more effective by leveraging your talents. For example, you can offer to handle their emails to streamline their inbox. Adapt your communication method to what works best for them, and always resort to direct communication for urgent matters.

As a business partner, it is your responsibility to aid executives in overcoming obstacles and enhancing their job performance. When you’re well-matched with the executive, there will be a natural exchange of ideas and mutual recognition of each other’s strengths.


Ensure Your Executive Recognizes Your Strengths

In addition to assisting your executive with areas for development, it’s crucial to make them aware of your strengths. Clearly communicate what you excel at. Administrative professionals have a valuable opportunity to highlight their competencies, especially when they can demonstrate a skill relevant to the executive’s business plan. This might involve tasks such as drafting responses to emails, proposing more efficient office procedures, or taking the lead on initiatives with fellow assistants. Your unique knowledge is an asset that needs effective communication.

Stand confidently in the space of showcasing your capabilities. By leveraging your strengths, you contribute to reducing your executive’s workload, allowing them to focus on strategic matters. Demonstrating your strengths not only opens the door to additional responsibilities but positions you as a true business partner.

Many assistants possess significant talents that often go untapped. It’s time to step forward. While it demands a blend of skill and discretion, clearly communicate to your executive, either through words or actions, how your abilities can save them time and contribute to achieving their goals.


Managing Up: Summing It Up

The concept of managing pp should not be misconstrued as a power struggle. It’s not about hierarchy; it’s about how you, as an assistant, can support the executive in achieving their goals and those of the company while advancing your own career. It signifies a genuine partnership where both the executive and the assistant benefit. This approach not only fosters career development but also provides satisfaction and recognition in your current position. The relationship you cultivate with your executive serves as a valuable asset for career advancement and role expansion.

Invest time in understanding the executive, establishing connections between your job requirements and their professional goals. Your discreet assistance in helping them overcome obstacles, including areas of their own development, will be genuinely appreciated. Showcase your strengths and illustrate how you can contribute to their goals. Effective management will build a relationship based on trust and common objectives, ultimately benefiting everyone involved.

Enhance Your Managing Up Skills with LifeSquire Academy

You can elevate your managing up capabilities through LifeSquire Academy’s professional coaching program. Whether you’re an aspiring executive assistant or aiming to excel in your current role, our courses are designed to empower you. Explore the possibilities with LifeSquire Academy to elevate your managing up skills and thrive as an executive assistant.



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