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What is a Chief of Staff?

When looking to hire an Account Manager or a Sales Director, the job responsibilities are often pretty standard. Positions such as these have clear objectives and are well defined. However, some roles exist where the description varies greatly based on the needs of a company or to whom they report. A good example of this type of role is a Chief of Staff.

Although the Chief of Staff’s day-to-day functions aren’t universally set in stone, it’s understood that the Chief of Staff is the point person for individuals working for someone of high authority. As a result, while primarily reporting to the CEO, the Chief of Staff can wear many different hats across an organization. Let’s review the most common hats worn by this somewhat ambiguous, but essential hire.

The Operations Hat is probably worn the most by those in a Chief of Staff position. This area of responsibility may include tasks such as creating processes and procedures to improve workflows, or resolving issues within the lines of cross-functional communication. The Chief of Staff is often the go-to person for creating efficiencies within a company. Improving operations allows for increased productivity and directly affects the growth of a business.

The Strategy Hat allows the Chief of Staff to provide the CEO with guidance on managing priorities regarding the growth of the business. To do this, the Chief of Staff ensures alignment of goals, budgets, planning, etc. across various teams. He or she may also be responsible for creating agendas and running Leadership team meetings on behalf of the CEO.

The Administrative Hat sometimes falls under the Chief of Staff as well. Some tactical tasks may arise that the CEO chooses to delegate to this team member. More specifically, this work may include organizing important files, planning a complex business trip or managing the CEO’s calendar and/or email inbox.

Overall, a Chief of Staff is a generalist – someone who can handle any hat that is thrown his or her way. But remember, the main goal of this position is to partner closely with the CEO and allow this executive to stay focused on the big picture. Managing all of the hats to progress the CEO’s priorities helps define the Chief of Staff role.

Human Resources Hat 

  • Managing/Grooming starts
  • Managing failing employees
  • Compensation Treatment
  • Annual Review Processes

Marketing/Sales

  • Managing high impact/new/complex go to market efforts

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