Managing Up for Assistants: How to Empower Your Exec to Be Your Best Supporter

Equip your leader to be your biggest advocate 📣

As an Executive Assistant, your leader may not always know the best ways to work with you and support you in your role; and while you may be waiting for them to make the initial move, oftentimes, it’s up to you to take the first step! If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. Now is the time to take a proactive approach and manage up to build the partnership you both need to succeed. If you love the idea of your executive supporting you as you support them, keep reading to learn how you can make it happen! 

EAs, are you ready to manage up? ↗️

In the video below, Mallory Rothstein, Administrative Business Partner at Google, shares alongside Anthony Carthew, Executive Assistant to the CEO and Head of Protocol at Sydney Opera House, how EAs can make an impact in their organization, simply by managing up. With a little help from the experts, you can begin to lay the groundwork for a mutually supportive partnership. Click play to get started!

More on Mallory: Mallory is also the founder of More Than an Admin, a movement and community aimed at helping administrative professionals become the best versions of themselves. She’s also a TEDx speaker and founder of a scholarship program through the Learn What Matters Foundation.

More on Anthony: Anthony oversees arrangements for the Opera House’s many visiting VIPs, manages a team of EAs, and heads up the Sydney Opera House Pride network, which promotes diversity and inclusion for staff, partners and visitors. He previously worked at David Jones (Australia’s leading department store), the Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Empower your exec to be your strongest supporter! 💪

Here are three key takeaways from Mallory and Anthony on managing up. Got one to add? Join our EA Community Facebook Group and share with assistants across the globe who are learning from one another and making a difference in the lives of the leaders they support.

It’s all about connection. 🔗

A successful and supportive EA/Exec relationship is built on a solid connection. Anthony shares that building synchronicity with your leader is essential to developing a trusting relationship where you can feel safe to confidently speak up and share ideas. Mallory suggests to start building a connection with your leader right away – even in the interview process.

“For me, managing up is really about for an EA to be able to make confident and informed suggestions to their manager, even if you don’t think they might be on board.”

Anthony Carthew

“It’s really important that you start building a really close relationship during the interview process. Find some kind of connection you have with them right away. And if you didn’t do that during the interview process, start as soon as possible.”

Mallory Rothstein

Taking initiative matters. ✅

As an EA, you know what works for your executive, which means you can take the lead, teaching your exec how you best support their day-to-day and long-term goals. Anthony explains that no two leaders are the same, making it especially important for assistants with multiple execs to have a handle on their executives’ calendar (see our Calendar Management 101 Ebook for tips), contact lists, and email inboxes/outboxes. By showing you can initiate tasks to your exec’s benefit (i.e. saving them time), your exec can become a better supporter and advocate for you. It’s a win-win!

“It’s moving yourself from just being an organizer and facilitator to being more of a strategic partner and advisor.”

Anthony Carthew

Positivity wins. 🌟

Sometimes executives need help passing the baton of their work life to their assistant. If you are working with an exec who is having difficulty letting go and trusting you to take control, Mallory recommends having a candid conversation to get to the root of the issue. She adds that you might consider sharing examples of positive EA/Exec relationships, and express to your exec your desire to build a positive relationship like the examples. Remember, you have the power to show your exec your value and build a relationship based on trust and mutual respect.

“Showing some really positive examples will help executives see the value in it.”

Mallory Rothstein

Looking for examples? Listen to the Courageous Help podcast, a bi-weekly series where real assistants share their real-life experiences and knowledge to help EAs around the world do their best work in supporting their executives (available wherever you get your podcasts). 

Base: a better way to do Executive Assistant work

If you’re an EA looking for a better way to work, we’d love for you to check out Base. It’s a platform made exclusively for Executive Assistants who want to cut through the clutter and make the most of their day (and their exec’s time). Sounds great, right? Get a demo of Base and see what we’re all about.

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.