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The Role of Chief of Staff in Strategy Execution and Their Top Priorities

The Role of Chief of Staff in Strategy Execution and Their Top Priorities

When you think about the Chief of Staff, you may visualize the very dynamic Emily Rhodes from the Netflix best series The Designated Survivor. Going beyond politics, the role of Chief of Staff has become a much sought-after one in the Corporate world. Why is this?  

There are many potential slips between strategy and execution. While leadership teams spend copious time in number crunching, looking at trends with a hawkish eye, and deliberating on strategic choices to move the business forward, not all is well understood by folks who matter the most - your teams! 

MIT’s study titled ‘No One Knows Your Strategy — Not Even Your Top Leaders’, found that 51% of the Top Management team could list the top 3 priorities of their company, and this decay plummeted to 13% among front-line supervisors. 

Yes, strategy decay is real, as is a lack of alignment.

As a Founder or CEO, it's pretty much impossible to be everywhere, all the time. The Chief of Staff role was designed to be the force multiplier to the role of a CEO (sometimes to a Business Head or Principle Executive in large enterprises). The role description of the Chief of Staff may also vary, depending on the company size. When your company is beyond Product-Market fit and scaling fast, it is the best time to consider this role. If you’re wondering how you can become a great Chief of Staff, here are the top 4 priorities and best practices.

Here Are the Top 4 Priorities of the Best-in-Class Chief of Staff

1. The Importance of Measuring What Matters

A Chief of Staff is probably the best suited to align teams to metrics that matter most. Teams often struggle with which metrics would move the needle, and that’s where the Chief of Staff steps in to help discern the metrics that are most critical to moving a strategic choice forward or ones that are blinking RED! Here’s a guide on how to choose the right KRs. 

In fact, they are great sponsors of an OKR rollout since they have end-to-end visibility of the business (current and future). The access to customers, data, and internal and external networks also make them an excellent influence on business leaders, to get all rowing in the same direction. Don’t miss out on John Doerr’s video on Why the secret to success is setting the right goals to illustrate this.

2. Making Data-driven Decisions

 The Chief of Staff keeps a keen eye on whether key decisions have been made, against the toss-up of time spent by the CEO or executive.  This requires data-driven decision-making capability, to identify the Class A unsolved issues in the business that are hindering progress, and make time to address the same. The Chief of Staff also keeps an eye on strategic decisions to be made, by whom, and follows through with these key decisions.  

  

3. Taking Strategic Initiatives

Each organization has strategic initiatives – often the ones that are investments for the future. The Chief of Staff oversees the execution and planning of these initiatives, as many stakeholders would be investing in the future of the organization. Having a line of sight to the Executive Leadership Team, the Board, and the Senior leadership, the Chief of Staff role would tie a number of key decisions on business velocity.  

4. Supervising Corporate Development

In start-ups and Scale-ups, the Chief of Staff is typically in charge of the data room, pitch decks, and managing the fundraising or M&A process. This requires intent attention to detail, working closely with Founders, and organizing the process like a symphony.   

How Can We Improve the Capacity of the Chief of Staff With OKRs?

You might already be aware that OKRs are not written in silos but rather, crafted as teams. The Chief of Staff can indeed write #OKRs along with the Executive Leadership team. Wondering how to write OKRs? This will help you get started.

Here’s a Straightforward Example of OKRs for the Chief of Staff.

As a Chief of Staff, the intent is to identify the Strategic choices where there is maximum leverage and craft OKRs around them. The Chief of Staff then organizes teams and decision-making while removing blockers in achieving these strategic objectives and outcomes.  

Objective: Double down on growth through partnerships in order to expand to new markets 

KR 1: Increase partnership sign-ups from 15 to 100 

KR 2: Increase partner onboarding experience ratings from 3.8 to 4.5 

KR 3: Reduce time to new leads from partners from 60 days to 30 days 

KR 4: Increase new client onboarding in new markets from 2 to 20  

You could also check our treasure trove of 100+ OKRs templates to get started on writing Company and Team OKRs. 100+ OKRs Templates/Examples - Fitbots

OKR example_OKR templates_Fitbots OKRs

Who Is a Great Fit for the Role of Chief of Staff?

The Chief of Staff must have a strong understanding of how the business works. A deep reflection of the Mission, Vision, Value Prop, and the ability to drive these to successful execution.   

 

The Chief of Staff can have an exponential impact on the effectiveness of the Executive/CEO or business head of the organization. This includes the ability to go beyond tunnel vision and study economic trends which can impact the business.    

The Chief of Staff must earn the trust of business leaders and stakeholders. Consistency in actions and decision-making is key to winning the minds of people. Being privy to confidential data requires having control over conversations and interactions involving the same.   

Lastly, the Chief of Staff comes with strong planning and organizing skills. This goes far beyond coordination and ensuring that the right decisions are made. It involves drawing attention to business-critical issues. This requires fast decision-making while keeping in mind the end-to-end contours of the business. Definitely not one which will win popularity votes, put one up on getting the business propelling.   

If you are looking for a quick guide on how to get your Strategy execution right, get in touch with Fitbots or download this quick guide on Strategy Execution.  

Get OKRs right with Fitbots OKRs_OKR software free trial

About the Author

Vidya Santhanam is the Co-Founder of Fitbots OKRs. Having coached 600+ teams, and conducted 1000+ check-in meetings, Vidya likes writing about Metrics, high performance, and leadership.

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