FAQs: Learn More About the Chief of Staff Role

Is a Chief of Staff Right For Your Team?

We receive all types of inquiries and questions about how a company or team can effectively use a chief of staff to support its strategic vision. We've pulled together some of the the most commonly discussed topics in an effort to educate others about the value a chief of staff can bring to an organization. The chief of staff plays a critical role in maximizing a team's potential and growth.

Why should I hire a chief of staff?

Leaders typically hire a chief of staff when they have more on their plate than they can handle. Often they find their attention pulled away from the areas they should be prioritizing. If you feel like you can never get on top of your to-do list, your inbox is exploding and your team isn't getting what they need from you in a timely manner, you might benefit from a chief of staff. We work especially well with visionary leaders who need someone to be their operational side-kick who helps bring the vision to reality and brings order to chaos.

What is a chief of staff?

A chief of staff is a key partner who will help you get things done so you can focus on the tasks that you're uniquely capable of doing. They are your right-hand partner, trusted advisor, and get-it-done team member. They are the person you turn to when you're grappling with a challenging situation, when you need to get something off your plate, or when you want help wrangling your team.

What types of work do chiefs of staff do?

A chief of staff's responbilities are wide ranging. Essentially, a chief of staff does whatever a leader needs them to do in order to be more effective. In particular, here are some work streams chiefs of staff often lead:

  • Direct CEO support: helping set strategic priorities and working to align a leader's time with those, prepping for and following up from meetings, teeing up email communications, etc.
  • Strategic planning and project management
  • Meeting and event planning
  • Creating systems and processes to increase team efficiency
  • Hiring, budget creation, operations and more.
If you're looking to educate your team and leaders about the value a chief of staff can bring to your organization, we've created a chief of staff starter guide to get your team aligned.

Are there projects they cannot do?

As long as it is legal and ethical, and can be done virtually or during a business-trip, anything is possible. Our chiefs of staff are high-level generalists. We don't typically have expertise in very technical arenas such as accounting or graphic design, but we can work with you to find another consultant who does.

How is a virtual chief of staff different than a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant can be a great resource as well, managing calendars, travel arrangements, expenses and more. A virtual chief of staff typically focuses on more strategic and operational tasks that require a high degree of judgment and/or technical skill.

When is the right time to hire a virtual chief of staff versus a full-time chief of staff?

  • A full-time chief of staff located in the same office can provide incredible leverage for leaders, and urgent tasks can be turned around immediately. You can pop over to their desk, ask quick questions, talk through challenges, all live and in person. And they can keep a strong pulse on the office culture. But these advantages also come with a cost - typically a full time salary plus benefits. If your organization is large enough, and your role big enough, that makes sense.
  • Many leaders and entrepreneurs, however, could benefit from the work of a chief of staff, but don't need a permanent full-time employee doing this role. Also, much of this work can easily be done virtually, with emails, phone calls, and video chats. You can even virtually "pop over" with instant messenger. You are able to get top talent, for the amount of time that you need it, much more affordably.

Does this have to be virtual?

About 90% of our clients work with their chief of staff on a remote basis, with occasional in-person trips. We do have some clients who need or want someone on-site. We are happy to provide this but like to remind clients that their candidate pool will be significantly smaller if they are only looking at local talent.

How will a chief of staff be able to be effective working away from the rest of the team/company?

It's true that relationship building, access to networks, and understanding the motivations of other team members is a critical component of a chief of staff's success and effectiveness in working virtually with others. We'll be the first to admit these things are easiest when done in person. This is why we often recommend that clients invite their new chief of staff to spend some in-person time with the team at the start of the engagement. That said, we have found that these relationships can also be built effectively remotely through phone and video chats.

Can my virtual chief of staff work for more than one executive on my team?

Yes, though typically a COS works with a single leader, collaborating frequently with his or her team, it is possible to have the COS work directly with more than one leader. We also have several clients who have multiple vChief consultants to work with different leaders or on different projects.

How much do your services cost?

  • Our chief of staff services are billed on a monthly basis based on the level of service chosen. Other services are priced individually based on the service requested. Please make an inquiry in the Contact Us section
  • In addition, any business travel expenses incurred are reimbursed by clients

What type of clients do you work for?

We work with CEOs, Founders and Executive Directors across all domains and industries. In particular, we often work with start-up companies, education organizations, nonprofits and foundations, and small businesses.

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