Hiring support staff is a critical investment that new CEOs can and must make quickly at the corporate helm in their first few weeks. Anyone taking the reins of a billion-dollar company recognizes that they cannot do everything or be everywhere themselves. Instead, they must have a support staff that is strategic, tactical, and can influence others.
Many first-time CEOs focus on implementing new initiatives that will meet the goals set by the board. Corporate leaders want to hit the ground running, likely deferring the hiring of their staff until much later.
They continue to work with the staffing system already in place. Maybe the current organizational system is working. More than likely, however, it can’t adapt to and keep up with the changes the new CEO wants to make.
Therefore, the CEO must hire support staff to succeed.
The Right Support Staff for Every CEO
CEO support falls into three strategic areas: communication, information control, and traffic flow. Patrick Aylward (Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey identifies the roles and duties this way:
- Air traffic controller – Handlings systems and logistics for the senior leadership team and the CEO.
- Integrator – Coordinating systems and information between departments and divisions so that no one works in isolation.
- Communicator – Managing public, media relations, and corporate philosophy between company leaders and other employees.
- Honest broker and truth-teller – Identifying challenges and opportunities without bias
- Confidant – Listening without advocating for a personal or political agenda.
Hiring multiple team members devoted to these five areas enhances the CEO’s ability to make rapid changes. In many cases, that’s what CEOs establish. They hire a Chief of Staff and several Executive Assistants.
Support Staff Characteristics
The difference between good support staff and great support staff lies in their skills and their attitudes about the role they play.
The most outstanding support staff:
- Understands the corporate culture
- Wants to see the company succeed
- Collaborates with stakeholders at all levels
- Demonstrates exceptional executive functioning skills
- Initiates tasks independently
- Works with little supervision
- Communicates well verbally and in writing
- Uses software management products with proficiency
- Maintains high levels of confidentiality
It seems like the CEO’s support staff must have the strategic acumen of Sun Tzu, the confidence of Joan of Arc, the wisdom of King David, and the compassion of Mary Poppins.
In reality, however, finding the right CEO support staff is a task made simple. It merely takes working with recruiters who know what successful corporate leaders need and where to find the talent to support them.
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