The Chief of Staff and Executive Assistant roles are often misunderstood and underestimated. Both positions involve a wide range of responsibilities and play crucial roles in supporting Executives and ensuring the smooth functioning of organisations.
While there may be some overlap between the two roles, they are distinct in their focus and scope of work. In this article, we will look at understanding the difference between a Chief of Staff and an Executive Assistant and how to make a move for Assistants.
The Executive Assistant primarily handles day-to-day tasks and acts as the central hub of information in the Executive office. Their responsibilities include managing schedules, calendars, meeting preparations, and communications. They excel at multitasking, executing the strategic plan, organisation, and handling administrative tasks efficiently. EAs often work in the present, focusing on immediate needs and demands, such as meeting deadlines and maintaining smooth operations.
On the other hand, the Chief of Staff operates strategically and is involved in long-term planning and projects that align with the CEO’s vision. They work closely with the CEO, managing projects, overseeing initiatives, and ensuring the organisation’s growth and success. While strategy and tactics are crucial for both roles, Chiefs of Staff focus more on big-picture items, breaking them down into actionable steps and holding stakeholders accountable.
Contrary to popular belief, designating EAs as purely tactical and Chiefs of Staff as strictly strategic oversimplifies their roles. EAs can be strategic partners, contributing to the organisation’s goals and exhibiting resourcefulness. Chiefs of Staff also employ tactical skills while working on complex issues and balancing strategic responsibilities.
Moving from Assistant to Chief of Staff
When considering transitioning from an EA to a Chief of Staff, evaluating personal motivations and career goals is essential. Moving to the Chief of Staff role should not be solely driven by the desire for a title change, recognition, or compensation. It requires a clear understanding of the position’s responsibilities, expectations, and long-term objectives.
Dispelling common myths about the Chief of Staff role is crucial. First, assuming it automatically comes with higher compensation than an EA role is inaccurate. Compensation depends on various factors, including the organisation’s size, industry, and specific circumstances. Second, assuming that Chief of Staff is the natural career progression for an EA is misleading. Career growth is individualised and can encompass various positions, depending on personal strengths, interests, and opportunities.
Before pursuing a Chief of Staff position, conducting thorough research and gaining industry knowledge relevant to the desired role is vital. Strengthening communication, leadership, conflict management, change management, and decision-making skills is essential for success as a Chief of Staff.