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The Rise of the Chief of Staff

by Jon White March 14, 2014

​Chief of Staff, Business Manager, Executive Assistant, Aide-de-Camp... although the title varies wildly between companies, recently at Freshminds we've witnessed an influx of clients in need of someone to fill this certain type of role.

What exactly does this role entail and why is it so important?

We've found that clients looking to fill this position are on the hunt for someone to become a proactive, strategic sounding board for the CEO. Generally speaking, this type of role tends to spring up in companies that have recently undergone some sort of organisational change, shift in management or a strategic overhaul.

In these situations the (often new) CEO finds themselves attempting to do their day job alongside a myriad of fresh strategic initiatives that they simply do not have the capacity for.  This can be particularly frustrating if, having just spent a large amount of money getting an external strategic consultancy in, there is no one in the company to actually carry out the work suggested!  This leads to expensive work fading to nothing, purely for lack of someone to drive it through...

This is where the Chief of Staff steps in!

Are you cut out to be a Chief of Staff?

An ideal Chief of Staff  would usually come to the role with over 5 years of experience in a high calibre strategy consultancy. This means they can often add huge amounts of value to a business in a short space of time by:

  • taking ownership of discreet strategic projects

  • identifying and tackling new opportunities/ existing inefficiencies

  • taking on the longer term strategic headaches

  • liaising and managing with the senior executive team and in general "getting things done"

For candidates considering this type of role there is a word of warning ... it is not for the faint hearted and requires diplomatic finesse and acuity. Often stakeholder environments in these situations can be complicated and being seen as the CEO's 'person on the ground' doesn't make for an easy ride! Large reserves of tact and gravitas are needed to effectively manage upwards.

In terms of progression candidates also have to be careful. If they are proactive in this role and tackle things head-on the opportunities for future roles  that open up are incredible. However, if their appetite for the role is lacklustre candidates can find themselves a highly paid PA, which does neither themselves nor the company any favours.

This Chief of Staff position can, for the right person, be one of the most influential, exciting roles within a company and can add exponential benefits to both the individual and organisation. By their very existence they instil a strategic DNA and in doing so, breed behaviours that can continue to benefit a company long after they have left.

If you are a company crying out for a Chief of Staff, or if you would be interested in finding out more about this type of role, then give us a call or drop us an email to have a chat about how we can help.

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