Thursday, February 24, 2005

Chief of Staff Feedback and Comment

After yesterday's posting on the Chief of Staff role was published, a discerning reader offered the following comment:

I believe that there was a critical factor not mentioned in the selection of a "Chief of Staff" (different organizations have different Titles). The C of S absolutely must have the respect and cooperation of the line managers who also report to the same manager/executive. In my experience, the C of S is selected from that group of line executives who has risen as a "prima inter pares" with his peers, which will allow him to act with effectiveness as (since I'm into the Latin) a quasi "in loco parentis" equivalent to the Chief. To be truly effective, his line peers must "like" him personally and respect his judgement. He, in turn, must be seem as trustworthy and unwilling to undercut his field peers.

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I am grateful to my erudite reader for raising this point. In organizations in which the Chief of Staff is drawn from inside the organization, I would agree that pre-existing respect and cooperation from line managers is crucial to the success of the Chief. I am familiar with other organizations that have brought in a C of S from the outside. In this case, the Chief of Staff must quickly establish his/her own bona fides by virtue of reputation, prior achievements, expertise, strength of character, interpersonal skills and a spirit of "Servant Leadership." (See following article)

A corollary to this point is the absolute necessity of the Chief of Staff being able to garner reliable data from the far reaches of the organization. It is axiomatic that within large enterprises, reports sent up the line are often presented in a way that will show the Division and its leaders in the best possible light. It is incumbent up on the Chief of Staff to develop alternate sources of data so that she/he is in a position to keep the CEO informed of the true "State of the Union" at any given moment. The ability to develop and to maintain these sources of reliable information and to analyze the stream of data may ultimately be the most challenging aspect of this job, and the function that returns the most value to the CEO) and to the organizaion.

As always, I welcome your comments.

Al Chase

1 comment:

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