What does a Chief of Staff actually do?

What does a Chief of Staff actually do?

Over the past eight months I’ve been working on a major transformation project to bring together the eight companies that made up The Panoply group into a single integrated business under a new brand.

Today was another major milestone in this continuing journey as we announced the first tranche of leadership appointments for TPXimpact. As part of these changes I’m taking on a new role as Chief of Staff, working closely with the CEO and other senior leaders across the business.

Chief of Staff is a common role in many political, governmental and military settings, but is less common in business. However it’s increasingly seen in technology businesses too.

Wikipedia summarises the role as:

“A chief of staff provides a buffer between a chief executive and that executive’s direct-reporting team. The chief of staff generally works behind the scenes to solve problems, mediate disputes, and deal with issues before they are brought to the chief executive. Often chiefs of staff act as a confidant and advisor to the chief executive, acting as a sounding board for ideas.”

Breaking this down a bit further, Harvard Business Review identifies out five specific areas of work for a Chief of Staff:

  1. serving as an air traffic controller for the leader and the senior team
  2. as an integrator connecting work streams that would otherwise remain siloed
  3. as a communicator linking the leadership team and the broader organisation
  4. as an honest broker and truth teller when the leader needs a wide-ranging view without turf considerations
  5. as a confidant without an organisational agenda

That’s a useful generic list, but as we’ve developed the accountabilities for each role in our new structure, we’ve tried hard to think how a role adds value to the specific organisational contexts we have. That’s helped us frame the Chief of Staff role as being about:

  • Being a strategic advisor and counsel to senior leadership team, with a focus on organisational design, internal delivery of vision for the type of organisation we want to be and integration of acquired businesses.
  • Visible internal ambassador, supporting and enhancing leadership communications across the organisation.
  • Creating and maintaining cross-company relationships to enable leadership success.
  • Responsibility for specific cross-company projects and initiatives, including the integration of existing and new businesses into TPXimpact.

Continuing our journey of change, with a focus on becoming a truly progressive and different professional services business, is a key focus for the role. I’ll be continuing lead the design and implementation of a progressive and agile operating model for the business, ensuring change across TPXimpact is consistent with our organisational design principles and a coherent organisational architecture.

We’re continuing to grow through acquisition too, so the Chief of Staff role also includes leading the integration of businesses into the new TPXimpact organisation, championing an iterative approach to integration and maximising the autonomy of leaders in the design of their areas of responsibility.

As a human-focussed business I’ll also be prioritising the development of an organisational culture where autonomy is maximised and servant leadership is the norm to enable team members to fulfil their potential at work.

I’ll be striving to provide effective leadership communication across all parts of the organisation, augmenting the work of our CEO and other leaders as required. This also includes facilitating the work of the company’s new governance models and wider leadership forums to ensure an inclusive leadership environment which fosters alignment and high performance.

It’s going to be a fascinating few months ahead as I work out how to do this in practice and continuing to learn and evolve my personal approach to work.

I’m particularly looking forward to working more closely with many leadership colleagues I know well already and to meeting new emerging leaders over the coming years too. I’m really excited about the opportunity and am excited to see where the journey leads at TPXimpact.


I work with founders and senior leaders in rapid growth businesses. My focus is building resilience, coherence and high performance in teams and organisations to enable sustainable business growth.

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