Many elected leaders and executives find it impossible to fulfill all the demands of their jobs without help. Lawmakers have a long history of employing a chief of staff to lead their support teams, but executives are increasingly catching wind of the trend and adding these positions to their payrolls, according to an article on CNN Money.
If you're interested in a career as a chief of staff, be forewarned that ads for these positions rarely reflect the full scope of the job. In this position, you will serve as a top-level adviser who's part confidant, part gatekeeper, and part strategic consultant. Expect a career requiring hard work and long hours. Also expect the work to be stressful and fast-paced.
A chief of staff is often responsible for handling the bulk of her boss' communication. She makes and receives phone calls, sends emails and letters and may have to engage in teleconferences. She might also need to deliver speeches and make public appearances on her boss' behalf. In addition, a chief of staff spends a lot of time organizing, attending and presiding over meetings. These duties require excellent verbal and written communications skills. You must also be able to remain calm and professional in stressful situations.
A chief of staff acts as a human barrier. She is usually the liaison between her boss and her boss' colleagues, clients, constituents and other stakeholders. She determines which people and concerns are worthy of her boss's direct attention, and which can be delayed. In some cases, the chief of staff assumes responsibility for matters that aren't of the utmost importance to her boss. To be effective, a chief of staff must have strong diplomacy and conflict-resolution skills.
Administration and Management
A chief of staff needs strong organizational and management skills. She assumes many of her boss' administrative duties and is usually held accountable for the smooth operation of the office or department. Because the chief of staff might get limited guidance from her supervisor, she must know what to do, when to do it and how to get each task done. She typically delegates many duties to lower-level staff members, interns or volunteers, but ultimately she is responsible for their performances. To be an effective leader, she must be knowledgeable and display authority because other people will look to her for direction and advice.
Oversight is another important duty for a chief of staff. She may be responsible for developing, reviewing and monitoring a budget and ensuring that all staff adhere to legal standards and the organization's code of ethics. A chief of staff may have to monitor policies and risk controls and develop recommendations when issues arise. She will also likely have special projects to complete. What this entails will vary depending on the employer. For example, Rob Deeming told CNNMoney that his project list included brainstorming new product lines when he was chief of staff for Gilt Groupe CEO Susan Lyne.
Most employers require that chiefs of staff hold at least a bachelor's degree. However, some employers prefer an advanced degree. In a job listing for chief of staff for its CEO, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools said the company prefers candidates to have an MBA, which is not uncommon.
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