March 1, 2024

Why your military skill set could make you an excellent chief of staff

A Chief of Staff (CoS) is a high-level executive assistant who supports the CEO or other senior leaders in an organisation. 

They’re essentially a right-hand person, taking on various responsibilities to free up the leader's time and ensure smooth operations.

What are the responsibilities of a Chief of Staff: 

Strategic planning and execution: Supporting the CEO or executive team in developing and implementing long-term plans, aligned with the organisation's vision and mission.

Operational excellence: Overseeing day-to-day operations, ensuring smooth workflow, and identifying opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Problem-solving and decision-making: Identifying and resolving complex issues efficiently and effectively, often under pressure.

Communication and relationship management: Building strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders, effectively communicating information, and resolving conflict constructively.

Leadership and mentorship: Providing guidance and support to team members, fostering a positive work environment, and delegating tasks effectively.

What are the benefits of being a Chief of Staff?

Competitive salary and benefits: Chiefs of Staff typically command great salaries and big benefits packages.

Exposure to diverse industries and sectors: The role offers the opportunity to gain experience across various sectors, broadening your knowledge and skill set and helping you define your purpose. 

Real impact on organisational success: You'll have a direct impact on shaping the strategic direction and driving the success of the organisation.

Fast-paced and stimulating environment: The role offers a dynamic and challenging environment, fostering continuous learning and professional development.

Strong sense of community: You'll join a supportive network of professionals, including other veteran colleagues.

Some of the top skills needed

1: Leadership - As a Chief of Staff, you'll need strong leadership skills to guide and inspire teams, set direction, and drive organisational objectives. This includes the ability to make tough decisions, provide mentorship, and foster a culture of collaboration and accountability. In the military, you’re taught how to be a leader from the get-go. So you’re likely already a step ahead with this skill. 

2: Project Management - Strong project management skills are essential for overseeing initiatives, coordinating efforts across teams, and ensuring the timely and successful execution of strategic initiatives. This includes planning, organising, delegating tasks, and monitoring progress to achieve desired outcomes. A military skill set will mean you’ve had similar experiences. 

3:  Strategic thinking - Another skill that the military will have equipped you with, as building strategy is a core capability of anyone who’s served. A Chief of Staff must possess strategic thinking capabilities to anticipate challenges, identify opportunities, and develop long-term plans aligned with the organisation's goals. This involves analysing complex issues, synthesising information, and formulating effective strategies to drive success.

Three tips for becoming a CoS

Highlight your transferable skills: You got a lot of valuable experiences from your time in the military, so make sure you show them off. 

Upskill: The Chief of Staff Association offer a range of up-skilling and educational resources, which are well worth checking out if you’re serious about a CoS career. 

Network with Cos and veteran CoS: Networking goes a long way. So speak to people who have followed a similar path to yourself, connect with people on LinkedIn and don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

Good luck! 👊

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