Why You Should Care About the ‘Chief of Staff’ Position

August 9, 2016

9:00 am

Every organization out there has a slightly different interpretation of a job title and its description. The importance of most jobs is evident in their titles: You can’t do without a sales team, and managers keep it all together. But one title is a little vague to the average layman. What’s a chief of staff, and why are they essential to a high-growth startup?

Scott Amenta, who is, unsurprisingly, himself a chief of staff at Spring, has weighed in on the question in a detailed Medium post. Though he covers a lot of ground, here’s the one reason why the chief of staff is important at a unicorn.

Time Matters at a Unicorn

Growth is tricky to pull off: 70 percent of failed startups failed due to premature scaling. In a high-growth environment, time is a “critical asset.” As Amenta says:

“CoS fulfills areas of the company that have a direct impact on the business / product but do not always fit the core job descriptions of the rest of the team.”

The chief of staff plugs the leaks that might overwhelm the company as it scales up, but which are easily missed by other teammates. Not even the CEO can do that job.

CEOs Never Have the Time

Amenta again:

“The best CEO’s, in my opinion, are leaders with a whirlwind of ideas, who live in a ceaseless deluge of creativity and never enough time to get it all done. CoS provides coverage to run and explore new areas of opportunity without distracting or diverting resources from the rest of the company.”

The chief of staff can handle the details while keeping up with the CEO’s bigger picture. And, if you’re among the NY-based CoS crowd, you’re in luck: Amenta’s looking to build a support group and you can contact him at scott@scottamenta.com to join his “not-so-secretive group of Chief of Staffs.”

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe