When most people hear about the Chief of Staff position, they begin thinking about the West Wing of The White House. Yet, businesses and organizations in a wide variety of industries are adding Chiefs of Staff to their employee censuses.
Jordan Gadd has ten years of experience holding the Chief of Staff position. He has served as the Chief of Staff in the education field and in the public health field, where he currently serves at Heluna Health.
As Chief of Staff, he assists the leadership team by ensuring the connection between departments, synergy, and collaboration. Through a detailed understanding of each department individually, Jordan can build a strategic plan that simultaneously accomplishes the department-level goals while pushing the entire organization forward.
Community health focus
Heluna Health, located in Los Angeles, has been a binding agent for the community for over fifty years. Described as the nonprofit public health infrastructure support system, they have five hundred partners that tackle topics such as maternal and child health, the public health workforce, outbreak preparedness, disease prevention, early literacy, and more.
Heluna offers a wide range of support, including human resource services, grant management, and fiscal sponsorship, just to name a few. With Heluna’s all-encompassing backing, their partners can maintain their focus on serving communities and executing their public health missions.
“We really run the gamut in terms of focusing on the health of populations, whereas health care often focuses more on the health and wellness of individuals,” Jordan says.
Daily life of a Chief of Staff
The Chief of Staff role can vary widely depending on the industry and the organization, yet there are a few core aspects that are the same across the board.
“Ultimately, a Chief of Staff is there as an extender, a thought partner and advisor to the Chief Executive Officer and the leadership team while working across the organization,” Jordan says.
It is more common than not to find departments working within silos across an organization. Because of this, in some organizations, the CEO may be the only person throughout the whole company who has a grasp on the overall mission and trajectory of the business. The Chief of Staff’s role is to bring support the the CEO and the entire organization by ensuring smooth collaboration, thorough and effective communication, and strong facilitation across all departments.
Key tenets and tips for newcomers to the position
“Everyone knows the line at the bottom of every job description. My entire set of responsibilities can be described as ‘other duties as assigned’,” Jordan says.
Becoming a Chief of Staff requires several strengths. The most important of those strengths is the ability to adjust and pivot effectively and efficiently. “Each team is going to have different needs. My job is to step in, find those needs, and fill them,” Jordan says.
Jordan can find himself shifting and adjusting his own perception several times a day. The role requires a laser focus on details alongside a bigger-picture vision. Shifting from a detail-oriented mindset to a grand scheme view is difficult, but it is what makes the role so vital.
According to Jordan, there are three tenants to the role that are important for newcomers to the field to understand. First, the position requires a lot of doing. “You really have to be ready to roll up your sleeves and do a lot of work yourself,” Jordan says.
Second, it is crucial to be a facilitator across departments. By connecting departments that are working in silos, communication, and collaboration become new opportunities for the entire organization as a whole. This leads the the third tenant, being a facilitator of change by connecting the organization’s dots while making sure each individual in every department can see how impactful their work is towards the bigger picture — the missions of the organization.
Being a strong Chief of Staff who delivers outcomes in a mission-driven organization can become second nature. With a focus on the greater good of serving communities and changing lives, becoming a connector and a facilitator is as rewarding as it could possibly be. By believing in the mission and building relationships throughout the organization, Chiefs of Staff can spot needs, strengths, and opportunities for support.
Focus on outcomes
Sharing outcomes is a critical aspect of public health, and the Chief of Staff is heavily intertwined in sharing those outcomes as well as ensuring the outcomes occur. Jordan’s team has developed three outlets to share their outcomes internally and externally.
Their first method is sharing quarterly progress on their strategic plan with headquarters teams and the board of directions. “While our numbers are great, with a ninety percent achievement metric, it is not all just about numbers. We also share the particular examples of successes and evidence we are achieving our strategic year-end goals,” Jordan says.
His team also invites program leaders to monthly all-hands staff meetings to share what their program does and the impact the program brings to the community. This offers program and public health education to the staff while showcasing how their work serves the community.
Externally, the strategic communications team develops an annual impact report with spotlight stories of program initiatives with a deep community impact. While the stories are strongly tied to the strategic plan’s goals and strategies, they also show the impact of their work — presented with a real, touching story attached to a real person in the community.
Gaining traction in the role
While the position that Jordan holds is not a common one to expect in the C-suite, many industries are finding the value of the role is exponential. While Jordan has served in the role at education institutions and public health organizations, tech startups are beginning to adopt the position as a staple for their companies.
Additionally, many organizations are unlocking exponential opportunities by adding department-level Chiefs of Staff, such as a Chief of Human Resources Staff or a Chief of Accounting Staff. With the Chief of Staff in the C-suite and one for each department, communication and collaboration flow at an unprecedented rate, offering fast new potential for the organization’s ability to reach goals.
Tune into this episode of The Strategy Gap where Jordan Gadd reveals his expertise in crafting a strategic plan that not only achieves departmental objectives but also drives progress for the entire organization.
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