The Role of a Chief of Staff: A Comprehensive Guide

Learn about the role & responsibilities of a Chief of Staff (CO) & how to become one. Understand how COs differ from Executive Assistants & how they help CEOs.

The Role of a Chief of Staff: A Comprehensive Guide

A chief of staff is an executive role that provides support to other higher-level executives in their roles. This position requires strong leadership, communication, organizational and decision-making skills. The chief of staff is responsible for supervising and communicating with lower-level staff members, providing project management and implementing strategic planning processes. Earning PACE certification is a great way to demonstrate your deep knowledge, experience and commitment, which are all qualities employers look for in a chief of staff or senior executive assistant.

This role is also commonly referred to as an executive director assistant, as they are responsible for planning, coordinating, and implementing key strategies on behalf of the organization's executive leaders. A successful chief of staff must have the ability to bring visions to life by planning, working, managing, and even reporting on post-project accountability. They must have an insightful and prodigiously motivated attitude in order to be successful in this role. It is also important that they have a strong educational background, such as a doctorate and an MBA from top programs.

Additionally, experience working for a strategic consulting firm can be beneficial. When considering the blurred lines between linguistic nuances and subjective interpretation, it is important to note that the chief of staff role can be filled with alternative titles with the same functionality and authority. For example, an executive assistant may have similar responsibilities as a chief of staff. Two final factors will determine if adding a CO to the CEO's office will improve things.

The chief of staff is usually responsible for planning and managing all of the CEO's administrative, financial and operational activities. It is also important that they create a system so that the CEO can focus on their board of directors while ensuring everyday tasks are not neglected. Third-level chiefs of staff are often found in large, complex organizations that face the need for drastic strategic, operational and cultural change, especially when the leader is new to the highest position. Therefore, it is clear that the “chief of staff versus executive assistant” question is an issue or a process, not necessarily a product.