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How to Have an Effective Chief of Staff and Founder Relationship

January 4, 2023

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A chief of staff and the company founder are sitting and collaborating together.
A strong relationship between the founder and the chief of staff can be invaluable.

Administrative professionals possess distinct gifts, talents, and skill sets. Beyond their organizational expertise, administrative assistants have a unique role with their company’s executive or founder. In many cases, an administrator’s presence is invaluable. They may even move beyond an assistant position to becoming Chief of Staff.

In this illuminating video, we got a chance to sit down with Adam Hergonrother and Hallie Warner. They’ve been in a strategic partnership for over 12 years, and co-manage a multitude of operations. 

Predominantly operating in real estate, Hallie and Adam have worked together on countless projects and in multiple companies. Hallie started as Adam’s assistant, and has worked her way into becoming Chief of Staff. This dynamic duo talked in-depth about their long-term strategic relationship and why it’s so successful. 

We’ll review the details of this video to expand on the nuggets of wisdom Adam and Hallie shared. We’ll talk about the chief of staff role, a founder role, what a force multiplier is, and how these roles work in tandem.

For more information on the Force Multiplier and Founder relationship, you can even check outthe full video here

What Does a Chief of Staff Do? An Overview

Before we get into the relationship between the Chief of Staff and Founder, it’s important to define each role. What does a Chief of Staff do, and is their role different from that of an administrator? Do these two positions possess parallels as well?

In most cases, a Chief of Staff is responsible for overseeing the complexities of an organization and the people within it. They usually work behind the scenes and on the “back end” of a business as problem-solvers and solutions experts. They support the CEO, Founder, COO, and other high-level executives. 

The Chief of Staff is a top-level position that works closely with other executives in the company. 

The Founder

The Founder is, of course, the person who started the company. The Founder’s responsibilities and roles will change as their business evolves. The Founder holds the vision, oversees big-picture items, and sets forth goals for the company. Not to be mistaken with a CEO (though sometimes they can have both titles), the Founder is the fire-starter.

Administrator Role & COS: The Parallels

If the Chief of Staff and administrative assistant roles sound similar, it’s because they are. However, there are a few key differences between these positions. 

As defined by Hallie and Adam, a Chief of Staff is strategic, while Executive Assistants are tactical. While their responsibilities may overlap, they’re both put in supportive roles that help the company function optimally. 

Chiefs of Staff tend to look at the big picture, while assistants focus on short-term goals.

What is a Chief of Staff: Their Responsibilities

Each company defines these roles according to their company’s structure and needs. Generally speaking, a Chief of Staff is responsible for the following:

  • Monitoring the flow of communication in a complex organization
  • Overseeing major projects and ensuring their timeliness
  • Scheduling for colleagues and executives
  • Improve teamwork and collaboration across the entire company
  • Maintaining priority of varying business strategies
  • Operations management
  • Overall, being a jack-of-all-trades with an expansive skill set

Defining a Force Multiplier 

According to Adam and Hallie, the COS or Executive Assistant can also be defined as a Force Multiplier. This term is used across multiple industries, but what exactly does it mean? According to the context of Hallie and Adam’s relationship, a Force Multiplier is:

“A strategic business partner who helps a leader build and run a wildly successful business.”

This means that a Force Multiplier can house any number of roles within a company. They can be an executive assistant, COS, or any supporting position to the Founder or CEO. 

A Force Multiplier amplifies the company’s mission, drives goals forward, and leads the team alongside the Founder. A Force Multiplier is the Founder’s right-hand, go-to person.

The Force Multiplier and Founder Relationship

The Force Multiplier will work in close collaboration with the Founder. The two cannot exist without the other. The Force Multiplier sees what the Founder cannot, while the Founder is the one holding down the vision. They both highlight one another’s strengths and also support each other as they evolve. 

Running a successful company cannot happen with one person alone. This is why the COS or Force Multiplier plays an essential role in the company’s growth arc.

Amplifying the Business Founder & Multiplier Relationship

In Hallie and Adam’s case, Hallie took on many different roles before becoming Chief of Staff. As you can imagine, their business partnership has seen a ton of changes over the years. What makes their teamwork so special, and why does it work? 

Their strategic partnership, or a long-term business relationship based on shared goals, is rooted in one thing: trust. They practice and stress the following values: 

Great Communication

Implementing systems that support clear and direct communication is a must. Adam expanded on this,

“We have the one meeting that we have on Mondays to kind of set the week right…What do we need prepared? What’s your role in it? What’s my role in it?... What are the deliverables for the week to keep everybody on the same page?”

The meeting they were referring to is their weekly execution plan. Having consistent systems in place to keep the team in the loop will prove vital in building and establishing trust.

Trust

Of course, trust is built over time. Trust begins with direct communication. Communicating what’s working, what’s not working, and how you can improve over time - is a sign of trust. Adam and Hallie talked about how trust is a cornerstone of their professional relationship. Adam said,

“I think you build that over time…I always like to think of conversations that I have with anybody, by the way, but particularly with your force multiplier, that they’re a vault. Meaning when information comes in…whether that’s something about their personal life or their business life…it becomes a vault unless they give you permission to share that. I think that goes both ways.”

Sharing openly, honestly, and confidentially, is an essential way of building trust over time. It’s a nonjudgmental space for both parties to share in a candid way.

Collaborative Efforts

The relationship between the Founder and Force Multiplier is a collaboration. You can’t have one without the other. Hallie spoke on this,

“A part of building trust is accountability…each person being highly accountable to their goals and contributions to the organization. And if Adam couldn’t count on me to be accountable for things he assigned to me or projects that I was working on, that would be a problem. And vice versa.”

Doing what you say you’re going to do, and doing it as a team, is a surefire way to create a successful strategic partnership.

Looking Forward

The Founder and Chief of Staff relationship is a crucial one in any business. Whether you’re an executive assistant, COS, or emerging professional, becoming a Force Multiplier is a journey. Cultivating trust and accountability takes time, and it also takes the right tools.

ASAP is dedicated to furthering the success of administrative professionals everywhere. For more training resources like this one, feel free to take a peek at our expansive library of webinars, blogs, and more. Or, feel free to become a member of the ASAP community today.




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