A guide to the role of the Chief of Staff

The impact they have and why it’s such a key hire

The Chief-of-Staff is quickly becoming one of the most important C-level hires in companies that are struggling to deliver strategic priorities through the use of best-practice systems and processes like OKRs, KPIs and strategic initiative delivery.

It’s clear that the CEO can’t be everywhere and do everything and the role of the Chief-of-Staff is to be their right-hand person, trusted counsel, and strategy execution and reporting go-to. That said, it’s not a given that the Chief-of-Staff reports to the CEO and there are exceptions like reporting to the COO and CRO for example.

Decoding the Chief of Staff job description and their roles and responsibilities

When you review job descriptions for Chief-of-Staff you find phrases like:

  • Maximise the CEO’s value to the executive team
  • Allow the CEO to gain in productivity and impact
  • Deliver the company’s strategic priorities


Masters of business process

You can’t deliver strategy without systems and processes. The Chief-of-Staff is responsible for their implementation and use with a mastery of goal setting frameworks like OKR, KPI management being essential in addition to being fluent in project delivery methodologies like agile.

Here are requirements captured from job descriptions for the Chief-of-Staff roles that emphasize the requirements of being able to implement and manage systems and processes that deliver to a strategic planning process and priorities.

  • Identify and implement systems, processes, policies, and controls to ensure scalable operations
  • Assist in the communication of best practice and facilitate knowledge-sharing amongst different teams and stakeholders
  • Aligning the budget to the agreed strategic direction
  • Plan, communicate and lead strategic initiatives
  • Work alongside OKR consultants to create operating plans and OKRs
  • Track progress of goals and KPIs
  • Have a handle on operating metrics and identify areas of improvement
  • Ensure information flow, and decision making processes are as effective and efficient as possible
  • Improve the communication flow around board level decision making and processes, and implement strategies to ensure optimal efficiency and productivity
  • Keep track of objectives and KPIs and implement robust processes/systems to improve performance and productivity
  • Create and update reporting dashboards to track changes in KPIs
  • Ensure projects and key objectives are managed appropriately and delivered on time

Execution and results focused

There is no point having a strategy if the business is not continually focused and re-focused in strategy execution and results. This is especially hard as most leaders and teams know that given half a chance, business-as-usual will take over and strategic focus can be lost.

Here are a selection of execution related responsibilities of the Chief-of-Staff.

  • Implement board level decisions, strategic objectives, operational transformation projects and reporting priorities
  • Ensure tasks and projects related to strategic business goals are planned, managed and delivered effectively
  • Implementation of strategically important cross-functional projects, facilitating progress, and identifying and resolving blockers
  • Develop and implement communication plans to ensure teams are aligned around mission, strategy, and goals
  • Ensure teams are aligned on strategic priorities, and deliverables
  • Ensure collaboration and engagement from key stakeholders within the business
  • Support the CEO and the executive team to drive special projects and cross-functional initiatives
  • Foster and enable cross-departmental collaboration

What’s missing from Chief-of-Staff job descriptions

You can see that performance drivers like strategic focus, goal and executional plan clarity with relevant systems, processes and technology, information flow and reporting are central to the role. What’s not specifically called out but might be implied that would be worth mentioning in job descriptions is:

  • Systemised learning via goal and execution retrospectives
  • Goal and execution cycle management – establishing and systemising a goal and execution cadence
  • Psychological safety has been proven to be a significant lever on performance so it is worth starting to baseline and monitor levels between teams and target improvements where necessary
  • Time efficiencies e.g. reducing unnecessary meetings and improving the return in time invested in meetings when they are scheduled


What type of person makes a good Chief of Staff

It’s clear that the role of a Chief-of-Staff requires a particular set of skills and those skills are multi-dimensional. For this reason it is clear that the best Chief-of-Staff candidates are going to be highly prized as their position and skills puts them in a unique position to create significant value in an organization.

Here are some of the personal traits we’ve found that are frequently linked to the role.

  • A drive and hunger for getting things done and achieving results that deliver real impact
  • Can work independently and effectively across multiple projects and teams
  • Resourceful and detail-oriented
  • Proactive, problem-solving, positive, and collaborative mindset
  • Loves the idea of high productivity and performance and knows the tools and techniques which can be leveraged like OKR
  • Enjoys breaking complex problems into simple solutions
  • A skilled and confident communicator (verbally and written)
  • Strong project management and planning skills
  • An honest broker & truth-teller to the CEO – without an agenda

Chief Of Staff Salary Benchmarks

According to Glassdoor the average Salary for the Chief-of-Staff in the UK is £74,000 GBP, which is about $100,000 USD.

In the US the value of the role appears to be more with the average salary reported by Salary.com being $220,000 or about £165,000 GBP.

What is behind the huge difference in salaries between the two countries? The assumption would be the value associated with the role, supply and demand.

It would be reasonable to assume that this salary gap will narrow as the job becomes more common, more valued and more in demand in the UK and Europe.

Chief of Staff reporting using ZOKRI

Having current and accurate views on goals and strategic initiative progress and KPIs is a key pillar of the role of the Chief-of-Staff.

Here are the reporting requirements described in job descriptions for Chief-of-Staff roles that highlight the importance of having access to technology like ZOKRI.

ZOKRI provides Chief-of-Staff with the OKR Software and processes to create strategically aligned goals and initiatives, ensure updates on progress as well as information on blockers are gathered systematically, in addition to being able to monitor and report on operational KPIs.

Introduce OKR to your company

Not sure what OKRs are, or perhaps you want to know more about the framework? More specifically, what they are, who uses them and how to write them? How about managing OKR cycles and OKR software?

This 5 minute video is an introduction to Objectives and Key Results that describes Objectives & Key Results that will help you deliver your company strategy and exceed your forecasts.

Strategy, goal and KPI management using ZOKRI

ZOKRI is the most flexible and extendable OKR tool available – it grows with you as your use of Objectives & Key Results matures.

Here is a demo video of what ZOKRI can do for Chief of Staff looking to platform strategy, goals and KPIs in best practice OKR software.


The Chief-of-Staff is responsible for delivering the company. They achieve this through the adoption of better systems and processes that include goal setting methodologies like OKR and KPI Management that can be maximised through OKR training.

Of course, strategy will not be delivered and goals will not be achieved unless the delivery teams, both functional and cross-functional are kept focused. This means the update and executional cycle cadence needs to be adhered to. When it is reporting up and reporting down becomes easy, as does making any necessary adjustments to plans and resourcing.

Much of this makes it feel like the role of the Chief of Staff is all system and process based, but that would be wrong. Communication skills, both written and verbal are heavily emphasized. The Chief-of-Staff not only needs the ability to align and engage cross-functional teams, they have to be able to work alongside the CEO, the wider leadership team, and external stakeholders as well.

A very important and cool role in our opinion.


Can we show you how Chief of Staff use OKRs to deliver company strategy?

When you use OKRs you will be pushing against a number of performance levers. These include:

  • Increased strategic awareness (strategy is clear and understandable)
  • Bottom-up participation and ideation (engagement and ideas)
  • Clarity on what needs to improve and why (value based productivity)
  • Increased accountability (ownership of measurements that matter)
  • Increased alignment (in teams and across-teams / fewer silos)
  • Faster issue solving (frequent check-ins, better meetings)
  • Better reporting (leadership in control but less controlling)

When employees work towards making progress on fewer, more impactful goals, in a collaborative way, they help their team and company achieve more.

Employees tend to focus more, prolong their focus for longer, collaborate more effectively, and learn new skills. They also do less of what makes a lesser impact.

Two levers we therefore push on are ‘effective productivity’ and ‘employee retention’.
These impact revenue and other high level KPIs.