Chief of Staff of a Family Business CEO

When you become the CEO of the business you create, you realize that no one person can perform all the duties of being a boss. Every CEO needs someone who is level-headed, patient, experienced, has no conflicting agendas, and most importantly, has the integrity to stand by you when you’re right and stand up when you’re wrong you. You need it not only for your business, but also for your family and your wealth. Ideally, this person is able to lead but choose to work for you and see your success as a higher purpose than satisfying their ego. When the role is limited to your business, this person is your chief of staff, but when the role involves family, wealth, or even community matters, this person is your advisor.

In the movie The Godfather, the counselor is the family lawyer, as is often the case in reality. They may be the Chief Legal Officer in your business org chart, but their help is not limited to legal matters, but also business, family and personal matters.

As CEO, you are the ultimate decision maker, but advisors enhance your decisions by collaborating with others, providing the connections you need to execute your decisions, and communicating with you and others as advisors. Instead of just giving advice, your advisor asks by countering your plan whether your strategy is necessary to achieve your goals, whether there are other alternative strategies that might better achieve your goals, and whether this plan alone is sufficient to achieve your goals and are there viable alternative courses of action when circumstances beyond your control make the original plan no longer feasible.

While all of these are useful, the most important thing is that your advisor is someone you trust. They have to be someone who keeps their word, doesn’t abuse their power, ensures a “level playing field” and “does the right thing”. Your advisor will be both competent and credible.

So how do you find someone you can trust as your advisor? The first is to find someone who is competent and reputable, the second is to build a relationship with them, allowing them to demonstrate their competence as a consultant, and finally, to be willing to let them take some of the responsibilities that you now have as the boss away from your desk.

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