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Ten Steps on the Path from Executive Assistant to Chief of Staff

In most organizations, Executive Assistants are often the Jack or Jane-of-all-trades, the fixers, and the unsung heroes.  The silver lining is this demanding position gives you the tools to succeed in many other roles.

If you’re an EA thinking about next steps, becoming a Chief of Staff might’ve occurred to you.

Transitioning from Executive Assistant (EA) to Chief of Staff is a significant career leap with increased responsibilities and strategic influence. This article will give you some tips to navigate this transition.  

Honing these 10 skills will set you up for success on your path from EA to Chief of Staff.

1. Understand the Chief of Staff Role

This step is essential because the Chief of Staff role is so widely misunderstood.  It involves much more than administrative duties.  It’s a strategic position that requires a holistic view of the organization.  You also need decision-making prowess.  And you must be a team player who can align with leadership on critical initiatives.

2. Communicate Your Aspirations

Express your career aspirations to your superiors and leadership. You’d be surprised how many senior leaders are happy to mentor you.  Communicate your interest in taking on a more strategic role within the organization to them. This openness can pave the way for discussing potential opportunities and the skills needed for the transition.  

3. Develop Strategic Thinking

Transitioning to the Chief of Staff role requires a shift from tactical to strategic thinking. Start by proactively seeking involvement in high-level discussions, understanding organizational goals, and identifying areas where your strategic insights can contribute to decision-making.


4. Build Cross-Functional Relationships

Establish strong relationships across departments. As a Chief of Staff, you’ll serve as a bridge between various teams and leaders. Building rapport with key stakeholders will enhance your ability to facilitate communication, collaboration, and effective problem-solving.


5. Master Time Management

While EAs excel in managing their executives’ schedules, Chief of Staff responsibilities require a broader scope of time management skills. Learn to prioritize tasks based on strategic importance, delegate effectively, and navigate competing demands on your time.


6. Embrace Decision-Making

Transitioning from EA to Chief of Staff involves a shift from executing decisions to actively participating in the decision-making process. Develop the confidence to express your insights, provide recommendations, and contribute to strategic discussions.


7. Enhance Leadership Skills

Strengthen your leadership skills by taking on projects that involve leading teams or initiatives. This can include overseeing special projects, collaborating with cross-functional teams, and demonstrating your ability to inspire and guide others.


8. Stay Informed and Adaptable

As a Chief of Staff, staying informed about industry trends, organizational changes, and leadership best practices is crucial. Cultivate a mindset of adaptability and be ready to pivot your strategies based on evolving organizational needs.


9. Seek Mentorship and Training

Seek guidance from mentors who have experience in Chief of Staff roles. Additionally, consider attending training programs or workshops that focus on leadership development, strategic thinking, and the skills required for the new responsibilities.


10. Demonstrate Proactive Problem-Solving

Show your proactive problem-solving abilities by identifying challenges and proposing solutions. This proactive approach will showcase your readiness for a leadership role and position you as a valuable asset to the organization.


Like most things in life that are worth having, the transition from EA to CoS is challenging and rewarding.  


But practicing these 10 steps will help you navigate this transition successfully.  And, an added bonus is you’ll make a meaningful contribution to your organization’s success. 


Best of luck with this exciting career advancement!  


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