A Chief of Staff (COS) plays a critical role in a company’s leadership and executive team. While the specific roles of a Chief of Staff may differ between organizations and industries, they're the ones who provide invaluable support, keep teams united, and make sure everything runs smoothly behind the scenes.
Below, we’ll dive further into what a Chief of Staff position entails so you can leverage these insights to scale your business strategically.
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What Is the Role of a Chief of Staff?
Today, many corporations rely on a COS to serve as a sort of liaison between high-level executives and all members of the staff. They take the bigger-picture goals and objectives of the executive team and translate them into workable strategies and everyday solutions that staff can implement directly.
Likewise, Chiefs of Staff relay important information and insights from their everyday work within the company back to top-level executives and decision-makers.
Main Chief of Staff Education and Skill Requirements
While the exact Chief of Staff job description can vary from one company to the next, some of the most common qualifications and requirements include:
- Minimum of a bachelor's degree, ideally in a business-related field, such as Business Administration, Finance, or Economics. (A master's degree may be preferred.)
- Proven leadership skills and experience in a supervisory or management role, particularly in a position that involves project management and overseeing multiple teams or departments.
- Excellent written/verbal interpersonal communication skills — with the ability to effectively communicate with staff members, department leaders, clients, and executive leaders.
- Proficiency in data analysis and budget management, particularly for a COS who will be reporting to a CFO.
- Special certifications, such as an Executive Leadership Certification.
Chief of Staff Key Qualities and Characteristics
Some of the most important qualities human resources teams and executive leaders may look for in a COS candidate include:
- Superb communication: A COS consistently communicates with executive leaders to stay attuned to organizational initiatives. This involves fostering positive relationships to instill trust and communication across departments.
- Organization: Chiefs of Staff may help executive leaders prioritize special projects and decision-making. They’re also highly skilled in tactical organization, including time, task, and project management, and are able to review and adjust associated metrics to accurately track progress.
- Resolve: These are data-driven and business-minded individuals. In addition, a strong COS makes clear-headed decisions under pressure. They must be able to remain resolute in the face of change, growing teams, and workplace conflict, and be able to make strategic and level-headed moves in spite of adversity.
- Flexibility and versatility: The duties of a COS can change on a regular basis, and the right candidate will be expected to be able to readily adapt to these changes with an open mind.
- Calm demeanor: Working as a COS means supporting both executive leadership teams and everyday team members, which can be a high-pressure role. Particularly since they interact with many different people and teams, a great Chief of Staff will be able to keep their own emotions in check and remain collected even in high-stress situations.
Who Does the Chief of Staff Report to?
This can vary from one company to the next. However, in general, a Chief of Staff reports to members of an organization's executive team or board. This almost always includes the company's CEO.
Specifically, a COS will carry out strategies and goals set forth by the CEO in day-to-day operations, reporting back to the CEO regularly. In some cases, a Chief of Staff may also report to a company's Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
What Is a Chief of Staff Responsible For?
The exact roles and responsibilities of a Chief of Staff might not be the same between two different companies. However, there are some common responsibilities that a COS takes on regardless of industry, the size of the company, or who they directly report to.
Acts as a Liaison Between Executives and Employees
One of the most important jobs of a COS is to act as a trusted liaison between executive leaders (including CEOs and COOs) and staff members.
The COS is expected to stay up-to-date on all workforce matters that include employee progress, hiring plans, and new initiatives. They also keep current on projects within the organization so they can consult with their CEOs on decisions of all scopes and sizes.
Supports With Administrative Tasks
Some Chiefs of Staff may also assume managerial and administrative responsibilities to ease the burden on the executive team. These professionals are responsible for all levels of administrative assistance, including managing schedules and planning meetings and large corporate events.
Closes Communication Gaps
Gaps in communication can affect the productivity and efficiency of a project, so Chiefs of Staff play an important role in identifying and closing these gaps.
This may be done by assigning employees to fill communication gaps where further guidance or explanation is needed and streamlining how information is shared between departments via specialized communication tools and software.
Assists With the Hiring Process
It's not uncommon for Chiefs of Staff to also assist with the hiring process. This is done in partnership with HR teams and hiring managers and may include anything from screening higher-level candidates before an interview to outlining the hiring process and even drafting job descriptions.
Collaborates With Other Executives
A COS regularly meets and collaborates with various executives and department heads to unify the organization and move forward the mission. Together, they’ll report on one another's ongoings and project updates to ensure the company remains unified without communication gaps and redundancies.
Drives and Oversees Key Business Initiatives
A COS is key in initiating and overseeing strategic plans and innovations different departments are implementing. This might mean supporting new product development, collecting and correlating metrics, providing guidance on a new service rollout, crafting go-to-market plans and messaging, and more.
Identifies Workplace Skill Gaps
Because of how intimately they work with individual teams and players, an astute Chief of Staff is able to identify gaps in skills/expertise and find solutions. At a large organization, there may be various Chiefs of Staff who oversee and course-correct skills gaps in their respective focus areas (e.g., product, marketing, finance, etc.).
Refines Organizational Charts
Rapid change can bring the challenge of redefining and restructuring the workforce. A Chief of Staff can help better define managerial roles, chains of command, and structures to optimize daily operations and the organizational strategy as a whole.
Maintains Budget Authority
Working closely with the CFO and with the assistance of the finance team, Chiefs of Staff can also manage income and expense reports. This helps maintain corporate compliance while also ensuring a close understanding of finances.
The Benefits of Having a Chief of Staff
Any company with executive-level leadership and senior executives can benefit from having a Chief of Staff. In fact, there are a number of advantages an entire corporation can benefit from when they hire the right COS for the job.
Executive teams have plenty on their plates. By recruiting a Chief of Staff to help with the heavy lifting and delegating, your executives have more time to address other high-value initiatives that are aligned with each leader's area of expertise.
A Chief of Staff can root out operational inefficiencies (such as unnecessary manual processes) and help employees become more productive. This, in turn, can result in long-term cost savings for businesses without sacrificing efficiency.
Data-Driven Decision Making
A Chief of Staff also compiles reports on all aspects of a business, interprets them, and provides accurate and up-to-date reports at board meetings. This information helps executive teams make better-informed decisions that can affect the overall growth and success of the company.
Improved Internal Communication
Transparency and communication are key to any organization's success — and a Chief of Staff can bridge gaps between executive leaders and employees to improve communication and understanding between all parties.
When Should You Hire a Chief of Staff?
Look into premium recruitment services for a Chief of Staff when:
- You want to boost your company’s performance but are unable to define what exact areas need fine-tuning. Chiefs of Staff are experienced in identifying skills gaps and growth opportunities, then use their data-driven mindset and analytical approach to spearhead these initiatives.
- You want to be proactive — not reactive. A COS can stay ahead of conflicts and urgent issues and facilitate their resolution to keep the executive team available for higher-priority issues.
- Your organization is growing. Chiefs of Staff can help orchestrate the hiring and organizational planning that go along with expanding your business. They can help identify operational gaps and hire candidates with the experience and backgrounds needed to fill those needs.
Find Your Future Chief of Staff With Hunt Club
The right Chief of Staff keeps a company and its executive leaders on track while working closely with employees in everyday operations.
Need support in your search for the ideal Chief of Staff? Hunt Club's executive search team can help. We've been trusted to recruit top executive talent for thousands of the fastest-growing companies, and we’re ready to do the same for yours.