The Chief of Staff (CO) is a vital part of the executive office, responsible for developing and executing systems and processes that help the office to run efficiently and productively. A great CO can be an invaluable asset to leaders who are striving to reach higher levels of success. The executive assistant (EA) to the executive director must understand the role of the executive director, as they are involved in the flow of information and will continue to handle the routine tasks that support the chief of staff. Unlike an EA, a chief of staff works independently and does not manage correspondence or the leader's daily schedule.
When considering whether to add a CO to the CEO's office, two factors should be taken into account. The role of chief of staff originated in politics and the military, and is now increasingly being adopted by executive directors. The responsibilities of the chief of staff are similar to those of the executive director, but their role is not employee-oriented. For example, one CO joined a large life science company after earning a doctorate and an MBA from top programs, then working for a strategic consulting firm, where his current boss was a client.
Having a chief of staff can be beneficial for executives as it allows them more time to think about big decisions. The CO can also serve as a reliable sounding board when comparing opinions with facts. During my 25 years working at a consulting and software company, 12 of which were spent as president and CEO, I had a chief of staff. According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), there are three levels of challenges a leader will face, which determine the responsibilities of the chief of staff.
The basic definition of chief of staff is someone who acts as the right hand of executives, including presidents, vice-presidents, department heads, and CEOs. Meetings are often a major time commitment for executives, and it is the role of the chief of staff to help them manage their time effectively. Therefore, holding effective meetings should be at the top of your list if you want to excel as a chief of staff. A great CO should also be able to anticipate potential problems before they arise and provide solutions that will help executives reach their goals.
The role of chief of staff is essential for executives who want to maximize their performance and reach their goals. A great CO can help executives stay organized and focused on their objectives while providing valuable insight into potential issues that may arise. By understanding the role and responsibilities of a chief of staff, executives can ensure that they have an invaluable asset in their corner.