If you are an Executive Assistant, you may be considering becoming a Chief of Staff (COS). You may be wondering:

  • If I am a senior Executive Assistant, should I be working towards a promotion to COS?
  • Do I have the skills to move from Executive Assistant to Chief of Staff?
  • What will be expected of me?
  • What does this mean for my career? 

There are a lot of questions that go along with starting the journey to becoming a Chief of Staff. So, let’s get started!

A Chief of Staff may be defined in a few different ways. I’ve outlined the various types of COS roles and how they ladder up and contribute to the success of an executive, a team or a business. Read more about this in my post about defining the role of Chief of Staff. If you are a CEO looking to hire a Chief of Staff, I’ve also got you covered with these tips from my previous post. 

If I am a senior EA, should I be working towards a promotion to Chief of Staff?

I’d like to turn this question back on you. After reading through the blog about what a Chief of Staff is and what they do, do you feel like you are already doing a lot of this same work?

If your answer is “yes,” then: YES you should be working towards this title promotion. A lot of the work I was already doing in my role as Dick Costolo’s executive assistant was at the Chief of Staff level. Having that title promotion set me up for future work in that role and allowed my peers and colleagues to look at me as more of their partner in the goals we were trying to achieve. 

If you are not quite there in the Chief of Staff responsibilities, start to work towards this by making the first step by embedding yourself in understanding and helping your executive to tackle their priority work. Understanding your executive’s priority work will not only change the way you tackle your job on a day to day basis, but it will also change how your executive tackles their own work. This makes you indispensable to them in getting their work accomplished.

Being a Chief of Staff is being a partner.

How can you work toward becoming a Chief of Staff? You can take gradual steps to position yourself. Here are some high-level tips you can implement right away to begin making that transition:

1. Become an integral part in helping your CEO set priorities and tackle them. Priority Setting – every week your CEO needs to get a bunch of stuff done and you are the conduit. Take a step back, have you gone over with your executive what they need to accomplish over the next 6 months. It could be a key hire for a VP Engineering or managing the communication around a product launch. Regardless, you need that list and that acts as your weekly/daily guide on what to prioritize, refocusing your CEO daily on the key items they need to accomplish. Pretty soon you will be the roadmap to getting shit done.

2. DNS (Do Not Schedule) Working Time: The only way to get shit done is to find the time to do it. Carving out 1-2 hours of your CEOs time a day to accomplish these priority items is the only way. Guard that time with your life, and your exec will actually feel like you are there to help them succeed. Because now you have found the time for them to actually get work done. Imagine that. Going to work and being able to actually accomplish this, instead of sitting in meetings all day listening to people talk about what they need from you.

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