What Is the Role of the Chief of Staff? (With Job Duties)
Updated 26 January 2023
There are a variety of executive-level positions you may explore if you're interested in an advanced business position. Some organisations rely on the counsel of a chief of staff to help enforce company policies and plan new initiatives. If you're interested in working in upper management and helping lead business ventures, a job as chief of staff may be ideal. In this article, we define what is the role of the chief of staff, explain the responsibilities and skills necessary for the position and outline the steps for pursuing a career in business leadership.
What is the role of the chief of staff?
A chief of staff is a professional who helps the chief executive officer (CEO) oversee operations within a company. The role is a partnership with organisational leaders, where the chief of staff ensures they manage their time effectively and advises them on making important decisions. It includes supervising lower-level employees, such as project managers and executive assistants, and carrying out the CEO's duties in their absence. Chiefs of staff nurture relationships between the CEO and stakeholders, and they connect with multiple departments to fulfil the company's objectives. They often have extensive professional and educational backgrounds in their industries.
The typical responsibilities of a chief of staff include:
providing resources to prepare chief officers for upcoming meetings
establishing budgets for the organisation
corresponding internal and external communications, such as speeches, newsletters and press releases
ensuring managers meet the needs of stakeholders
maintaining productivity on occupational tasks
representing the CEO's interests in workplace gatherings
implementing programs for all company employees
helping create key performance indicators
defining organisational goals
identifying and researching opportunities for business growth
consulting with the human resources department about employment topics
Related: What Is the CEO Role in a Business?
Skills of a chief of staff
Here is a list of soft skills you can use in your position as chief of staff:
The work environment of a chief of staff is often fast-paced and frequently alters, which may require professionals to adapt their approaches when necessary. Their schedules may include an assortment of job duties with urgent deadlines, and they may handle several projects simultaneously. It can be essential for staff leaders to react quickly to changing circumstances and be open-minded, enabling them to lend efficient advice to the chief officers. For example, when the company enters a competitive market, the chief of staff can develop new strategies and suggest them to upper management, allowing the business to expand.
Executive officers may depend on their advisor's leadership skills to uphold the company's and its employees' interests. A chief of staff can coordinate and execute initiatives to help the organisation grow. They may be responsible for exercising authority over their staff and ensuring team members submit assignments promptly. With competent leadership, a chief of staff can also help CEOs become efficient leaders.
Chiefs of staff use competent communication to mediate meaningful conversations with lead officials, stakeholders and the public. Here are examples of instances where they may initiate verbal, written or interpersonal interactions in the workplace:
Advising the CEO: A chief of staff may be proficient in clarifying their ambitions, expectations and reservations to the CEO. Active listening is another vital component, where the advisor can accurately relay messages from the CEO to other employees.
Fulfilling a leadership position: After reviewing the performance of the associates that report to them, chiefs of staff can communicate feedback that inspires an employee to perform better in the future. They may also set clear standards to avoid assignment confusion and encourage team members to ask for help when needed.
Sending updates to employees: Professionals may practice their written communication skills to create newsletters that engage staff members and deliver information in concise formats. They also may embody the personality of the CEO to issue correspondence on the company leader's behalf.
Publishing promotional materials: It can be essential for chiefs of staff to represent the company positively in a press release, for example. They can collect details about upcoming events or hiring decisions and use a layout that the news industry recognises.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to be supportive and empathetic partners to the lead officers of the company. Chiefs of staff may exude positive attitudes to create pleasant atmospheres for their coworkers. They can encourage their team during workplace challenges or complicated tasks, and they understand how to communicate considerately with the organisation's stakeholders. Emotional intelligence also allows professionals to remain calm during emergencies. For example, when a client makes the deadline for a project sooner than anticipated, the counsel of the chief of staff can reduce the pressure surrounding the CEO, allowing them to make an informed choice.
Critical thinking can empower chiefs of staff to analyse their options before recommending the best course of action to organisational leaders. They may compare the advantages and disadvantages of business opportunities and collect more information through research. The skill also helps them evaluate a company's operations and identify ways to improve them. For example, suppose the employee retention rate has recently decreased. In that case, the chief of staff may practice critical thinking to investigate the causes and develop techniques to attract talented employees to the agency.
How to become chief of staff
Consider following these steps to prepare for a career as chief of staff:
1. Earn a bachelor's degree
An undergraduate degree is the minimum education requirement for becoming chief of staff. Enrol in a curriculum that aligns with the industry where you want to work. For example, if you wish to assist the CEO of a finance corporation, you might earn a bachelor's degree in finance or business administration. If you strive to fulfil an upper management role in the political sector, an educational background in political science may be helpful. Pursue courses that challenge you to build employable skills, such as research and business acumen.
2. Gain professional experience
Enter the field to apply your education to a real work environment. Before you graduate, consider participating in internships, which are temporary employment opportunities for college students to gain experience. You can observe the leadership styles of chiefs of staff that work at the same company and build a network of professionals who can help advance your career. If you perform well as an intern, the employer may consider hiring you for a full-time position.
Once you receive your diploma, you may be eligible for entry-level roles in your industry. Search for job vacancies with descriptions that match your interests. You can also seek mentorship as you progress in your career, allowing you to receive guidance, encouragement and feedback that can help you become a competent employee. The more knowledge and experience you acquire in your field, the more qualified you may be to advise organisational leaders as chief of staff.
3. Advance your education credentials
A master's degree can strengthen your qualifications as a job candidate, which can help you negotiate a higher salary and fulfil managerial roles. Consider studying the same subject from your undergraduate career, which can help you specialise in your knowledge. An alternative is to pursue a different discipline to diversify your expertise.
For example, if you have a four-year degree in finance, you might seek an advanced degree in business administration. You can also distinguish your credentials by becoming certified. Although certifications are not requirements for chiefs of staff, additional training can expose you to developments in your field.
4. Apply for leadership positions
Employers may require you to work as a manager and executive before appointing you to a chief of staff position. Reconnect with professionals in your network for insight into increasing your job responsibilities. You can seek promotions within your current company or look for employment at a different organisation.
It may be beneficial to practice your leadership and interpersonal communication skills after you earn a higher-ranking role. Observe the management style of the present chief of staff to determine how you can approach the job in the future. Contemplate speaking with your colleagues about your career aspirations to recruit support when you apply for the role.
How much does a chief of staff make?
According to Indeed salaries, a chief of staff earns an average base salary of $139,423 annually. These figures can vary due depending on your geographical location. Employees that work in a more commercial company or hold a master's degree might earn a higher salary.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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