Incredibly good at leading others towards outcomes.
A vault - high ability to build deep trusting relationships with others while keeping a high degree of privacy
Ability to operate at 3,000 feet and in the weeds in a single moment
Tactical Job Functions in the Role:
A COS is utilized to be a “force multiplier” for the CEO:
Facilitates communication and coordination across the executive team
Prepping for critical client or prospect meetings (Especially for travel)
Project managing a strategic cross-functional initiative
Culture pulse and ear to the ground
A trusted confidant and sounding board for them on sensitive decisions
Overview of the 2 types of Chief of Staffs:
There are truly two different types of Chief of Staffs:
The Management Consultant
Someone who specializes in management consulting, has an MBA, or is looking to get their MBA.
They have a 1-2 year shelf life in the role. They dig into the data and create models to support business decisions.
Likely more business minded, with a strategic consulting approach
They often work separate from the CEO and will take on projects that other team members can’t take on.
The Right Hand to the CEO - often a senior EA can be a Chief of Staff
The COS is completely integrated into the CEOs priorities to help them succeed.
At a high level, they are leaned on to make sure everything that the CEO is working on and needs to get done is handled and facilitated efficiently and without the CEO needing to step in.
This role can be for a lifetime :)
This role is far more satisfying than the first for both the executive and the person in the role.
EA’s make the best Chief of Staffs. This isn’t necessarily because of their skill sets but because they are embedded naturally in everything the CEO is already doing, they have access to all of the company information, and have established trusted relationships with the executive team.
The EA mentality is to not be the star but to elevate their executive and those around to do great work. Being COS is also about finding people in the company to give opportunities, not about doing it all yourself. When you hire a short term Chief of Staff or a management consultant type COS, it is usually all about them learning so they can elevate their career.
COS Areas of Focus:
Area 1: The CEO’s Success
Delivering on goals
Communication with the Executive team & overall company
Area 2: The Team’s Success
Take on strategic projects for the team, as needed. The key here is the project shouldn’t take the CoS too far away from their daily tasks that support the CEO’s success (area 1). The CoS should still be accessible. Oftentimes, this means no direct reporting…only facilitator-type work.
Support communication up the stack to the CEO, and help team members prepare and understand what the CEO wants to know, including prep for meetings, and one-on-one meetings.
Ensure the team is working well together. Mitigate office politics and create a transparent environment.
Area 3: Company Culture
This last area can be flexible and more adaptive to your environment and CEO. However, due to the nature of being very close to information at the top, the CoS can be vital in understanding where the disconnects exist. It is really important to facilitate messaging from individual contributors to the CEO. This can help in a number of ways, such as encouraging (or repairing!) a healthy balance of communications, work and fun within a company culture. Specific activities include:
Putting an ear to the ground to understand where things are falling through the cracks. The COS needs to be proactive in understanding the issues and seeking to facilitate a solution.
Assisting in communicating to the company, through steering the messaging based on what people need.
Fostering a healthy culture through the right amount of communication, gatherings and team building.
Relationship preservation with key original employees who may not get as much face time with the CEO.
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