Framing Your Chief of Staff Role for Better Performance


From Fortune 500s to grassroots nonprofits to Capitol Hill, no two Chief of Staff roles are exactly alike, but we all want the silver bullet solution to achieving success in the role. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way. However, there are ways to help inform how you think about, and approach, your role that can improve your performance.

You can start that process right now by taking 15 minutes to consider these 3 key questions:

How are you improving the effectiveness of your principal or leadership team?

We’ve previously taken a close look in this white paper at the Chief of Staff’s ultimate goal: enhancing the effectiveness of your principal or leadership team. Here’ our suggestion: discuss the six areas of effectiveness with your principal and other key leaders and ask them to rate the current state of each area on a 1 to 10 scale. Where are things going really well? Where do opportunities exist to get better? In what ways can your role help? Even a few short info-gathering conversations will provide valuable feedback.

How do you and your principal define and measure success?

If you were to grade yourself as a Chief of Staff, would you make the Honor Roll? To answer this question, you first need to know what success looks like – and, for too many Chiefs, the grading scale isn’t well defined. So, first ask yourself: What measures are in place right now for assessing how I’m performing in my role? And then: are those measures aligned with my principal’s definition of success? If they’re not, friction is inevitable. If no measures or too few measures are set, that’s an even bigger issue – and also one that can be corrected quickly.

How are you thinking of your role as a function of your organization?

If you are like a majority of Chiefs, you don’t intend to stay in your role forever – and that’s perfectly okay. That’s also precisely why it’s important to think about how your role’s function will outlive your tenure. The last thing anyone wants is for a top-notch executive office to fall apart on your first day off the job. So, beyond your own array of skills and insights that you bring to the job each day, what systems and processes can you embed into your executive office that ensure it remains high performing over the long term? How will you ensure a smooth transition when you leave?

There are many things you can’t control as Chief of Staff. But taking a little time to review how you’re performing now and what it will take to reach the next level is up to you. We hope these questions give you a jump-start on that journey!

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It all starts with a conversation.

We love to collaborate with great people at great organizations. Put the power of Prime to work for you to find the Chief of Staff that will help you reclaim your time, your impact, and, of course, your A-game.