Establishing Closeness between a Chief of Staff and an Executive


On a day dedicated to the celebration of love, we decided to take a look at the components of intimacy that touch workplace partnerships. In this case intimacy is not meant in the romantic sense, but rather as closeness of partnership, necessary for an executive and Chief of Staff to foster for long-term success.

Perhaps there is no greater partnership in a workplace than that of an Executive and their Chief of Staff. The Chief of Staff role functions in various ways, but at the heart of the position, the Chief of Staff is the ‘right hand’ and most trusted partner of the executive.

Gaining a level of ‘right hand’ partnership is not easily attained. From the onset of the Executive and Chief of Staff relationship–beginning during the hiring process–there must be a mutual decision to commit to the establishment of a partnership, with both parties agreeing the sum of two will accomplish more than one alone.

During the Chief of Staff interview process Prime uses rapport building questions designed from research on intimacy building. The goal being that even in initial conversations between a leader and potential Chief of Staff, topics are covered that have been proven to share vulnerabilities and determine whether there is possibility to create a true and lasting partnership. Sample questions include:

  • Would you like to be famous? In what way?
  • For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
  • If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

During the life of a Chief of Staff, the professional bond with a leader must be cultivated as one would for any relationship—sharing vulnerabilities, providing opportunities to gain trust, following through on commitments, etc. Without these components of intimacy, a Chief of Staff and leader are not able to act on many of their key functions, such as confidently sharing decisions, providing a sounding board, or remaining mindful of sensitive information during a confidential project.

Executives and Chiefs of Staff both need to be prepared to show their true selves each and every day they work together. These are the strong, professionally intimate, relationships that achieve great things together.

Want to discuss creating a lasting partnership between your leader and Chief of Staff? Contact us to learn more about how we can help.


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