A chief of staff leads the staff of an organization or those under the employ of a particular CEO or government official. A deputy chief of staff supports the chief of staff in organizing and coordinating the staff. Either or both of these positions may include sitting on a joint chiefs of staff board, on which all of the chiefs of staff in a business or organization work together to make sure the separate staff groups are working well.
Eyes on the Field
Chiefs of staff must be ruthlessly organized with an ability to multitask, as they are involved in nearly every aspect of a company’s operation. The ability to communicate well, both written and verbally, is vital as the role includes not only relaying information between a supervisor and his support staff, but also keeping the CEO or supervisor briefed on what is happening within the company. This means a chief of staff also must be attentive and a good listener, and show natural leadership ability.
A chief of staff must be able to manage the CEO’s financial and administrative operations in addition to guiding her employees and the projects those employees may be working on. A deputy chief of staff has many of these same responsibilities, though the chief of staff they are assigned to may have them working with a particular subset of employees in the organization. The chief of staff must keep his supervisor briefed on current happenings, whether his supervisor is a CEO, government official or military officer. These primary duties carry over to chiefs of staff working in private, military and political venues.
A chief of staff may be responsible for hiring staff and ensuring that the proper training protocols are in place. Politicians and executives rely on her insight into the company and may ask for her advice. Other duties will be influenced by the field the chief of staff is in; for example, chiefs of staff and deputy chiefs of staff in the political and military fields must stay abreast of current events, while those in the medical or business fields may need to keep any certifications up to date or cultivate business connections.
The educational background required for a chief of staff varies depending on what field he is in. Chiefs of staff should hold masters degrees in areas such as engineering, mathematics and business; those in the political field may need a political science degree. A chief of staff or deputy chief of staff in a hospital setting may require a medical degree. A minimum of eight to 15 years of experience in a related field also is required. For a chief of staff position in the military, the candidate must have relevant military training and will likely be an officer. Likewise, a chief of staff position in law enforcement will be filled by someone who has trained and worked in law enforcement. In the business field, those already working for a company are often chosen for the chief of staff position over a candidate from the outside.