How To Be a Great Chief of Staff (CoS) at a Tech Company

Understanding the skills, responsibilities, and qualities of a successful chief of staff.

The Meetingnotes Team
March 26, 2024

Although it has been present in other industries for decades, the chief of staff (CoS) is a relatively new role in the technology industry.

The position started to trend when big technology companies like Google, Facebook, and Uber added chiefs of staff, but has since been adopted by organizations of many other sizes, including tens of thousands of those from 50-500 employees.

Thinking about hiring a chief of staff? Thinking you might want to become one? 

In this article, we will dig into the nuts of bolts of the role.

What is a chief of staff?

A chief of staff is the right-hand to the company's CEO.

Unlike an executive assistant who deals with primarily administrative tasks, a chief of staff is someone in a leadership role that deals more with strategy and making high-level decisions for the company. They are involved in just about everything that happens at their company, but they're not always public-facing like the CEO.

“Be humble but confident — your role is NOT to be the star of the show, but rather to help the stars (especially the CEO) shine.”

— Megan Wheeler, CoS at Moves Financial

Chiefs of staff often act as facilitators between different teams, ensuring that all parties are communicating and working towards the same goals. As a result, they are often the person at the company who knows most about how it operates.

A typical day can include helping with meetings, writing agendas, strategizing big initiatives at the company, getting feedback, and consulting with the executive team on tough decisions.

What are the 3 main skills of a chief of staff?

Chiefs of staff must have great people management skills, be able to handle a lot of pressure while making high-level decisions, and must be a champion of the leadership's strategic vision.

1) People management:

The CoS needs to be able to lead and motivate the team, facilitate communication between executives, and ensure that decisions are being made correctly.

2) High-level decision making:

The CoS is someone that is tasked with making high level decisions for the company, like whether or not to acquire another company or how to handle large opportunities.

3) Vision champion:

A chief of staff needs to be able to understand what the CEO wants and make sure everyone in the company is executing towards it. This means you need a good understanding of your CEO's views and opinions on the market, the company, and the future.

What kinds of backgrounds are most successful at being a chief of staff?

Being a chief of staff is a multi-faceted role that requires a lot of experience leading people and projects. Anyone who wants this position should have previous experience working in a leadership role, either within their current company or a previous company.

In many ways, the qualifications are similar to that of the CEO. Many successful Chiefs of staff got into their position by working in a VP or C-suite role before becoming CoS. Having a background in finance or coming from a venture capital landscape are also both excellent traits to have in a chief of staff from the point of view of a CEO.

What are some of the most difficult parts of being a chief of staff?

Being a chief of staff is not an easy job. You need to be able to handle extreme pressure, deal with high-level personalities, and make tough decisions on a daily basis.

And, because there aren't many people with experience in this role, chiefs of staff often find themselves faced with unexpected problems and challenges.

What does a chief of staff actually do?

The job can vary depending on what stage your company is in. At earlier stages, the role focuses on advancing the company's vision and strategic goals. Later on, a chief of staff can be responsible for managing the team and helping the CEO scale their time across multiple teams.

Does a chief of staff actually manage other staff?

“The literal title chief of staff can be deceiving, as chiefs of staff in most contexts aren’t managing any staff directly.

However, one of the primary functions of a CoS, having developed strong relationships with key stakeholders, is to be a conduit of information across teams.

This might take the form of developing company-wide OKRs and getting buy-in and support for the processes or running point on cross-functional projects that require 3 or more teams with no clear leader. In both instances the CoS supports the organization by freeing information bottlenecks, helping quickly growing teams get visibility outside their functional silos.

Scott Amenta, ex-CoS @ Spring

How to become chief of staff

Most chiefs of staff are hired internally. If you are managing other people, don't be afraid to take more responsibility and try to take on a leadership role. The more experience you have working in senior-level roles, the better you'll be in a chief of staff position.

1. Get stuff done

First and foremost, you must be able to get things done. CEOs need someone who can make important things happen without them having to hand-hold. Getting things done is a chief of staff super-power.

2. Make sure you have the CEO's back

CEOs need your help in both public and private matters. When they're in public (Q&A sessions, TV interviews, conferences), push them to be bolder, take more risks, and own it. But when they're in private (crisis mode, sensitive situations), make sure their back is protected.

3. Be honest about the right thing to do

As a CoS your decisions are likely to affect more people than you are used to dealing with on an average day at work. It's important that you learn how to provide feedback and direction in a way that's thoughtful, direct, and candid.

4. Broach the topic yourself

If you believe your company needs a chief of staff and that person should be you, it may also need to be you that brings it up. Because the role is relatively new, it's not an area a lot of companies are thinking about, despite needing someone to support the CEO and leadership team.

What is the difference between a chief of staff and an executive assistant?

A chief of staff manages people and logistics while an Executive Assistant manages scheduling and admin tasks. Depending on an organization's size, there may be some overlap, but a chief of staff wields far more decision-making power than a typical EA.

The key difference between these roles is that a CoS runs the show (often in lieu of the CEO) while an EA helps leadership run the show.

Qualities of successful chiefs of staff

Many chiefs of staff say you need to be a "master generalist" to succeed.

“Take care of all the big things and little things that need to get done, but that aren’t exactly anybody’s job. Strategy, prioritization, and execution are key.”

— Megan Wheeler, CoS at Moves Financial


A chief of staff takes on many of the organization's toughest problems, yet rarely gets a stoplight on their accomplishments.

If you want to be a chief of staff, you need to be really good at solving other people’s problems. You also need to be okay with having to clean up problems that aren't necessarily your fault.


The best way to demonstrate leadership is with your results. CEOs are looking for people who can define their own processes, set direction collaboratively, and execute on the vision without being told what to do every step of the way.

Problem-Solving Under Pressure

You will also need to be able to solve problems quickly and decisively.

Remember that you are usually the first point of contact for the CEO. If an issue arises, you should be able to recognize what needs attention and then figure out how the CEO would prefer it handled. You will need to be able to implement the decision and speak on behalf of the CEO.

Strong Communication Skills

As a chief of staff, you are working with many different people inside an organization—from the cafeteria to the board room. This means you need strong communication skills in order to get your points across clearly and be able to adapt when needed. You also need to have good written communication skills because you may have to write emails or speeches for the CEO.

A Meetings Master

As a chief of staff, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with all things meeting related. This can include:

Preparing agendas and taking notes for weekly executive meetings

• Helping prepare the CEO for board meetings, all-hands meetings

• Putting together themes and even speeches for speaking engagements

“Preparing board materials and strategy session decks for the CEO for meetings with the management committee and advisory board, preparing CEO for external speaking engagements (World Economic Forum, conferences, business school classes) as well as internal speaking engagements (investor meetings, firm-wide town hall meetings, etc.), researching trends and key themes for the CEO related to the private equity space as well as investment themes of important”

— CoS @ top growth-equity fund

Besides preparing for executive level meetings, chiefs of staff also need to ensure that the other teams in their organization are effectively using their time and energy in meetings. This might sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be if you’re supported with the right software.

Fellow is an all in one AI meeting management software for remote and hybrid teams that not only automates the before, during, and after of every meeting; it also enables building great meeting habits at scale.

With automated pre-meeting reminders and prompts to fill out the meeting agenda in advance, Fellow helps chiefs of staff stay on top of every meeting. It even has custom AI powered suggested topics and over 500 meeting agenda templates to set up every meeting for success. Plus, its AI meeting copilot can automatically join every call to record, transcribe, summarize your meetings, and generate the key discussion points, decisions, and action items, all of which are easily accessible in one centralized place.

What’s more, chiefs of staff can rest easy knowing every meeting org-wide is being thoughtfully created with intention and costs in mind. Fellow’s built in meeting guidelines connect to your calendar and prompt every meeting organizer to craft their meetings with purpose. This means keeping attendees to less than 8 participants, ensuring meetings are booked more than four hours in advance, and marking attendees with more than 25 hours of meetings already in their calendar as optional.


Have a vision for yourself

“You should have some type of vision of what type of CoS you want to be — be that strategic, operational, HR/People, etc. The role is so nebulous that you need to understand what your strengths are, how you can be most useful, and most importantly, what you’re not going to do. It’s super important that your vision of your role and your principal’s expectations of you are closely aligned.

It’s a role that is extremely susceptible to scope creep, which means you need to have periodic (at least quarterly, if not monthly) frank discussions about your allocation. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure type of role, which is both a big opportunity and a big responsibility.

Simon de Jesus Rodrigues, CoS at Curio

Sample chief of staff job description

Thinking about hiring a chief of staff or recruiting one internally? Here's a job description template for a chief of staff that you can use in your job listing:


As the chief of staff at a fast-growing technology company, you'll be a strategic thinker and operational doer who will solely focus on the most critical organizational priorities. You'll report to the CEO, play an important role in executive leadership, and work as a cooperative partner across all functional departments of the firm.

The chief of staff's responsibilities include being a collaborator with the CEO as well as acting as a delegate on occasion. Your job will entail exciting and varied tasks across our global presence, and your success will be judged on your ability to boost leverage and velocity for the CEO and the rest of the executive team.

Responsibilities of the role:

• Work directly with the company's top executive to establish the organization's long-term objectives and day-to-day operations.

• Collaborate with senior leadership to develop long-term strategy.

• Run cross-functional projects with goals ranging from assessing progress, achieving goals, and motivating individuals to achieve their goals.

• Set the weekly executive staff meeting agenda, provide insights and analysis to assist in strategic debates, and track follow through.

• Take on special assignments at the request of the CEO, which may include everything from product development to finance and accounting.

• Act as a proxy for the CEO, advising key personnel on ways to achieve alignment on decisions.

• Take control over the content and agendas for significant internal and external reasons (such as investor meetings, board papers, key client meetings, internal all-hands, executive off-sites, and the like)


• 6-10+ years of experience working at a high growth tech company

• High EQ and comfortable influencing all levels of the organization

• Team-oriented professional with a commitment to driving both strategic and operational performance and improvement

• Self-starter with a desire to learn and evolve

• BA/BS Degree or equivalent practical experience

Essential meeting tools for chiefs of staff

1. Fellow

Fellow is an all-in-one AI meeting management platform that unifies your meeting notes, calendar events, action items, meeting transcriptions, and meeting summaries. Unlike other chief of staff meeting productivity software, Fellow ensures all meetings are high value by encouraging your team to think consciously about the cost of a meeting. Meeting Guidelines provide a built-in meeting cost calculator based on median wage, limits on attendees, and limits on meeting recurrence so meeting organizers can reflect and make the most out of every meeting. 


With AI-suggested talking points, Fellow enables efficient meeting preparation, so meetings are thoughtful and optimized across the entire organization. Get AI-generated suggested agendas, topics, and talking points right where your meetings happen when you use Fellow for chiefs of staff. Fellow’s AI Meeting Copilot automatically records, transcribes, and summarizes your meetings while seamlessly integrating into your meeting workflow and favorite tools. With over 50 productivity integrations, tasks and statuses are always up-to-date and only a click away. For additional information, learn more about Fellow’s pricing plans.

2. Ask A Chief of Staff

Ask a Chief of Staff is an excellent resource for both current and aspiring chiefs of staff to learn, connect with other chiefs of staff, and grow professionally. Their mission is to to build a confidential, collaborative, and supportive community where members can share knowledge, experiences, and best practices to help each other succeed in their roles.

The platform was founded by Clara Ma, an experienced chief of staff and former Series A to B CoS at Hugging Face. As a member of Ask a Chief of Staff, you get access to educational content, mentorship, job postings, events, and more. You'll be able to get support, share insights, and learn from industry leaders. Plus, you can easily consume past workshops and access a template library that's been specially curated by other chiefs of staff.

3. Loom

Chiefs of staff need to communicate efficiently and effectively, but that can get complicated in hybrid and remote environments, especially if you need to share your screen. Loom enables you to share and record video messages with ease and distribute them to the rest of your team. Its video editing functionality allows you to stitch multiple video clips together, and you can even use the video transcript to edit your recordings.

Loom also integrates with other productivity tools and interfaces like Google Workspace and Slack. Its other features include the ability to insert calls to action into your videos, along with emojis and comments. And, since security knowledge and compliance is paramount for chiefs of staff, Loom boasts enterprise-grade security, so you can rest easy knowing your data is secure and being protected.

4. Calendly

Finding a time for meetings can be one of the more time consuming tasks of a chief of staff. Calendly is an excellent tool for automating scheduling so you don't have to be constantly emailing back and forth to find the right time. Notable features include reminders that are customizable, and workflows that help automate follow up.

The tool is even smart enough to take your team's preferences for scheduling into account and adapt accordingly. Calendly also offers many integrations with popular software tools, and aims to keep your scheduling data secure. Similar to loom, it has enterprise-grade admin management, security integrations, data governance, compliance audits, and privacy protections.

5. Time Buddy

Time is everything for chiefs of staff, and when you need to be efficient with remote and hybrid teams that might span across different time zones, getting an assist from a productivity tool like Time Buddy is a great idea. World Time Buddy describes itself as a visual world clock. It also has functionality to convert time zones, and aid in scheduling.

Users can use the app for meeting, event, and call scheduling, as well as a reference for converting time. This tool enables chiefs of staff to select optimal meeting times with its special tiles that represent working or awake hours. Time buddy even allows you to choose and share times via your calendar or email, and its widget is great for easy time checks and basic planning.

6. Linear

When it comes to tasks and projects, chiefs of staff need to be able to hone in on focus and routine. Linear is a task management tool that has workflows to support both routine and focus, and they come built in to the product. It enables you to quickly and efficiently create tasks, and its commenting functionality facilitates contextual discussions.

You get easily created and tailored views for your teams' projects, making it perfect for cross-functional and collaborative work. Linear is great for visual planners and serves as a great platform for cross-team collaboration on projects. It even has progress insights so you can make better decisions as a chief of staff.

7. Supermanagers Podcast

Podcasts are an excellent resource for chiefs of staff, especially ones that are leadership and productivity focused. The Supermanagers podcast is hosted by Aydin Mirzaee, the Cofounder and CEO at Fellow. He interviews leaders with diverse backgrounds and experiences to discover the habits, thought patterns, learnings, and experiences that help them be truly great at the fine craft of management.

You can listen to the podcast episodes, or subscribe to the Supermanagers biweekly newsletter to get interviews and management tips delivered directly to your inbox – and become an even better chief of staff.


The role of Chief of Staff (CoS) is an essential position in the tech industry. While the role has many responsibilities, with these key skills and a the right professional background, you can take on the challenges that come with being a chief of staff. Whether it's managing people and high-pressure situations or being the champion for the CEO's vision, a chief of staff needs to be a strong leader with the ability to solve problems and communicate effectively. Being adaptable to evolving responsibilities as your organization grows is essential. Finally, a great Chief of Staff is only as strong as their toolkit, so equipping yourself with the right productivity tools is paramount. Fellow is perfect for chiefs of staff looking to keep themselves and their teams productive in meetings. With AI, behavior driving features, and seamless integrations, Fellow is the only all-in-one AI meeting transcription and management software for remote and hybrid teams that helps you have fewer, more effective meetings.

Don't let unproductive meetings slow you down

See the impact of fewer, shorter meetings, increased accountability, and enhanced productivity with Fellow.

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