Starting out in a Chief of Staff role can feel weird. That’s because you take a smart, high-achieving person and put them in a position with little definition and a ...
THE CHIEF OF STAFF CAREER PATH
The Chief of Staff role is made for people like you - people who are going places.
THERE'S A ROLE FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU
The Chief of Staff is the trusted right hand that helps leaders reclaim their A-game while building theirs.
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The State of the Chief of Staff is created in partnership with the University of Colorado offering insights into the demographics and impact of the Chief of Staff role.
With more than 200 Chiefs of Staff participating, we have gathered thought-provoking results about the impact of the Chief of Staff role post-pandemic.
The most common Chief of Staff questions, answered.
The specific personalities, attributes, and skills we seek in Chief of Staff candidates vary depending on the position, the leader, and the organization. In fact, our ability to pinpoint the behavioral traits to create lasting partnerships between a Chief of Staff and leader is our bread and butter. We help your organization determine the right mix of technical and behavioral skills required for a successful relationship between the candidate and your leader.
We believe there are six key functions that almost every Chief of Staff performs to some degree. Of course, more specific responsibilities will depend on your organization and your leader(s). Check out the role functions above to learn more.
As with many roles, experience levels can vary and depend on a candidate's ability to perform the position's duties. Generally speaking, Chiefs of Staff have at least seven to ten years of business experience. The reason being: the role requires advisory and decisive action across a variety of business challenges. Having someone with adequate professional experience can be very beneficial. It is important to understand the right mix of experience and background necessary for your particular role before you begin a search.
Yes, depending on your needs. We believe pinpointing superstar, high-potential employees for a future Chief of Staff role is a great way to develop talent and provide them with exposure to your leadership and business. However, we think the Chief of Staff title should be reserved for those who fully perform the role’s key functions above. That doesn't mean, however, that a more junior person cannot be Chief of Staff.
An executive office is the ecosystem of processes, functions, and people dedicated to a principal's success. The Chief of Staff is often the leader of an executive office.
We get this question a lot. We believe many executives need both and that they are two distinct positions--both of which add tremendous value. Below outlines a few key differences:
Completes tasks provided
Specific understanding of his/her executive
Typically does not manage others
Carries out directives of the executive
Chief of Staff:
Formulates and executes projects and priorities
Determines appropriate person to complete tasks
Comprehensive understanding of entire organization
Typically manages others directly or indirectly
Works on behalf of the executive or organization
To be clear, we are not opting to replace their human resources departments with a Chief of Staff. We believe Human Resources serves an important function in every organization. The Chief of Staff does not typically handle HR administration such as salary and benefits, worker compensation, unemployment insurance, and many other necessary details of employment. The Chief of Staff can, however, partner with HR to be involved in people management and strategy.
While the title sounds like managing people is a given, it isn't necessarily the case. The “of Staff” part of the title relates to creating a more productive and engaging environment for the entire organization and its people. Chiefs of Staff may manage people directly, typically starting with others in the executive office (e.g., executive assistants); however, it isn't a requirement for the position. The role is focused on people management skills because it works closely and collaboratively with a range of internal and external stakeholders.
The hope for most organizations is that the Chief of Staff stays with the them in a leadership position. We've seen Chiefs of Staff become VPs of Strategy and Operations, VPs of Community Relations and Corporate Development, VPs of Sales, VPs of Marketing, COOs, Presidents, leaders of spin-off companies or business divisions, CEOs, and entrepreneurs.
While some companies use the Chief of Staff role as a shorter-term "tour of duty" for high-performing employees, others employ Chiefs of Staff who occupy the role for several years. We can help you determine the best way to utilize the position at your organization.
It's difficult to say where the origins of Chief of Staff reside, but we didn't coin the term. The role is new to the private sector. For years, governments, health care organizations, and military organizations have used Chiefs of Staff to provide managerial and advisory support to their respective entities and principals. One of the simplest definitions of a Chief of Staff is a person who serves "at the pleasure of her or his principal." While a very broad definition, it's fairly accurate. Having a Jill- or Jack-of-all-trades on your team can be extremely beneficial to keeping your executive focused on company growth while ensuring other work is getting done. If you need more convincing, just read some articles we didn't write from CNBC, Forbes, Inc., and LinkedIn.
Are you a current Chief of Staff?
Participate in research to receive the latest updates and insights into the role. Check out our development services as well to get connected with other Chiefs.
Looking for Chief of Staff coaching?
Our coaches are experienced in guiding you through the rigors of the position to offer role-specific advice while also coaching you to become the leader you want to be.
Sharing a Research Opportunity
PRIME is excited to share that our friends at the University of Colorado Boulder have a new research opportunity. CU Boulder faculty members, Liza Y. Barnes and Christina Lacerenza, PhD, have continued to do amazing work on the Chief of Staff role and are furthering their research with Candid Conversations. This research will be used to analyze how Chiefs of Staff navigate relational dynamics at work. If you are a Chief of Staff and interested in participating, please sign up with the link below. These conversations are confidential and voluntary.