Hey, CXO! You deserve a Chief of Staff!
An open letter to my next CXO, from your future Chief of Staff.
Hey! Hey, you!
Yes, you! I see you! I see that you opened this email, scanned it, and then got pulled you away. You do know that’s not how you’re supposed to do email, right? David Allen wouldn’t be happy.
Hey, come back! I’m worried about you. How the heck are you ever supposed to keep up at this current pace?
Would you like me to shift this conversation to Slack? Or text? Stay with me the next couple of minutes to hear me out. I promise it’ll be good!
Here’s the thing: You could be doing a lot better at your job. You could be absolutely crushing it, as in “I don’t know he gets it all done?” and “she must have eyes on the back of her head.” You could be superhuman at your job.
I can help! Or, any of my fellow Chiefs of Staff could help. Hear me out.
I know, you’re not POTUS. Nor are you a decorated General. But, the Chief of Staff role has expanded into the private sector. The early adopters of this new role are quietly reaping the results. It's an edge for the modern executive. Couldn't you use an edge?
Common side effects of a Chief of Staff may include:
A general sense of calm and confidence, because you know that everything has been handled
Shorter states of panic, because your Chief of Staff has everything under control
More energy, because you spend less time thinking about and managing your to-do list
Increased ability to focus on the most important thing on your to-do list
Increased bandwidth to be present with friends and family
Joy, often demonstrated in the form of a smile, that you get to focus work that is the highest and best use of your time
So now I have your attention? Great!
Here’s the thing: I don’t personally need to be your Chief of Staff, but I think you should have one. I’m super passionate about the role and the impact it makes on both the executive and the person lucky enough to be the Chief of Staff. Let me know if I can introduce you to a great Chief. (I happen to know a few.)
So why am I so passionate about the role?
The best Chiefs of Staff act as a simultaneous force multiplier and a perfect complement. They amplify the best of you; they reinforce your most critical messages, and they follow-up when you don’t have time.
They keep you honest about who you are and what’s important to you. They serve as a mirror when you need one, a sounding board when you need to “talk it out,” and gut check when you feel that you strayed. They also remind you to eat, to sleep, and to let yourself be human in front of your team.
A Chief of Staff is a confidant, a consigliere, an extra set of eyes, ears, and hands.
They learn to think like you. Let's say that again: they learn to think like you. This means that your Chief of Staff can be you in a meeting, they can answer questions you would ask, they can provide feedback and guidance to get a presentation/document/report/analysis ready for your eyes. They can take initial calls to determine whether or not something is a good use of your time. They can serve as a gatekeeper - not to shield you from your team or the business, but to make sure that you get involved at the right moment and in the right circumstances.
Let me guess, some big chunk of your day yesterday was a waste of time. It was a meeting, wasn't it? And the attendees weren’t aligned, the materials weren’t distributed ahead of time, and the whole room was distracted? Did a decision get made? Hah! That was a trick question.
Here’s the thing: a Chief of Staff would have prevented all of that. Crazy, right?
Are you convinced? Great! The next step is to find the right person. I have some thoughts on that as well.