3 Tips for Navigating a High-Pressure Role as an Assistant

Supporting the world’s most influential leaders is not an easy gig. Assistants play a huge role in making sure these leaders are where they need to be, have all the right information, and keep everything moving forward. These roles can often come with a lot of pressure to succeed and be at the top of your game at all times. 

How to support high-profile leaders

We hosted a fireside chat with Reginald Love, former personal aide to President Barack Obama during his first term in office and author of the New York Times bestseller, “Power Forward, My Presidential Education”

He talked to us about the lessons he learned working with a US President, the impact it had on his career and personal life, and what it takes to be a President’s right hand. 

Watch the full replay below or keep reading for the highlights from the conversation!

3 strategies to navigate a high-pressure role as an assistant

Here are three of the top takeaways from our conversation with Reginald Love on how to handle the stress and responsibilities of a high-pressure role. Have any to add? Join our Executive Assistant Community and connect with assistants across the globe who are navigating similar experiences.

Develop a team mentality 🤝

Reggie compares his time supporting the President to his college basketball career at Duke University. He says that the team mentality he learned through sports helped him immensely in managing a large team throughout the campaign trail and at the White House. 

An important thing Reggie urges us to remember is that teams win together. Even if you aren’t the person that’s getting all the credit at the end, your role is just as important in reaching goals and outcomes. Your work together is much bigger than any individual, and all the ways you can contribute — no matter how small — help the team be great together.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable 🧗

Imposter syndrome is a common feeling among assistants supporting high-profile leaders. It’s easy to feel like you aren’t “important” enough to have a seat at those tables. But Reggie reminds us that it’s all about effort. It’s better to give 120% than to tiptoe through something because you’re unsure. You should always have confidence in your work, your ability to execute, and to seize opportunities as they arise. 

And when you make the inevitable mistake, use it as a learning experience. It’s OK to mess up or not have the right answer as long as you are willing to figure it out. You can use mistakes to figure out where the process went wrong, fix it for next time, and avoid making the same mistake twice.

Build in mental breaks 🧠

One of the most difficult parts of supporting a high-profile leader is not having a lot of time to yourself. Reggie reflects on his time during the Obama campaign when the late nights and early mornings left him with little personal time — which only increased the pressure tenfold. 

He reminds us to find ways to take intentional breaks whenever possible. Whether that’s evenings when you know your leader is having dinner with his family or taking breaks for themselves. It’s easy to try and  use this time to catch up on work, but whenever you can, find ways to shut off and give yourself time to rest.

How to juggle all your work as an Executive Assistant (without the burnout)

If you’re an EA looking to save time and focus your energy on the impactful work, the Base platform was built just for you. Our all-in-one workspace for Executive Assistants gives you one go-to place to organize, communicate, and take action. Get a demo of Base and see what we’re all about.

You can also check out our resources for EAs, learning and development programs, and job opportunities.

Written by Bryn Smith

Bryn is the Senior Manager of Brand and Product Marketing at Base, where she is on a mission to build a world-class EA community by connecting them with top-notch thought leaders, invaluable resources, and cutting-edge insights.