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If you're interested in a career as a chief of staff, be forewarned that ads for

these positions rarely reflect the full scope of the job. In this position, you will
serve as a top-level adviser who's part confidant, part gatekeeper, and part
strategic consultant. Expect a career requiring hard work and long hours.
Also expect the work to be stressful and fast-paced.

A chief of staff is often responsible for handling the bulk of her boss'
communication. She makes and receives phone calls, sends emails and
letters and may have to engage in teleconferences. She might also need to
deliver speeches and make public appearances on her boss' behalf. In
addition, a chief of staff spends a lot of time organizing, attending and
presiding over meetings. These duties require excellent verbal and written
communications skills. You must also be able to remain calm and
professional in stressful situations.

A chief of staff acts as a human barrier. She is usually the liaison between
her boss and her boss' colleagues, clients, constituents and other
stakeholders. She determines which people and concerns are worthy of her
boss's direct attention, and which can be delayed. In some cases, the chief of
staff assumes responsibility for matters that aren't of the utmost importance
to her boss. To be effective, a chief of staff must have strong diplomacy and
conflict-resolution skills.

Administration and Management

A chief of staff needs strong organizational and management skills. She
assumes many of her boss' administrative duties and is usually held
accountable for the smooth operation of the office or department. Because
the chief of staff might get limited guidance from her supervisor, she must
know what to do, when to do it and how to get each task done. She typically
delegates many duties to lower-level staff members, interns or volunteers,
but ultimately she is responsible for their performances. To be an effective
leader, she must be knowledgeable and display authority because other
people will look to her for direction and advice.

Oversight is another important duty for a chief of staff. She may be
responsible for developing, reviewing and monitoring a budget and ensuring
that all staff adhere to legal standards and the organization's code of ethics.
A chief of staff may have to monitor policies and risk controls and develop
recommendations when issues arise. She will also likely have special projects
to complete. What this entails will vary depending on the employer. For
example, Rob Deeming told CNNMoney that his project list included
brainstorming new product lines when he was chief of staff for Gilt Groupe
CEO Susan Lyne.

Most employers require that chiefs of staff hold at least a bachelor's degree.
However, some employers prefer an advanced degree. In a job listing for
chief of staff for its CEO, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools said
the company prefers candidates to have an MBA, which is not uncommon.

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