As the first Chief of Staff at a company there is a challenging, yet unique opportunity to shape the role in a way that amplifies the impact of leadership across the organization. And while it’s important that the Chief of Staff often serves as an extension of the CEO or leadership team, occasionally, the mistake can be made of making the role too heavily weighted towards simply being a ‘stand in’ for other members of leadership.
Our latest guest on Aspiring Ops, Karn Khunger, has been the Chief of Staff at Split for more than two years, and seen firsthand why it’s so important for a Chief of Staff to establish independence separate from the CEO.
In this episode, Karn shares his journey to Split, joining as one of the earliest employees, and how his sales background has helped him model a listen-first approach. Karn also discusses his view of the Chief of Staff role as one of extreme ownership and accountability, and why leading with EQ and courage can help you effectively work across all areas of the business.
Around the 22:00 minute mark, Karn references an awesome article written by Paul Cohen where he refers to the Chief of Staff as ‘a role of contradictions.’
Wow. If there was ever a way to succinctly describe why the Chief of Staff role is so challenging, that might be it.
Karn references just a few examples of how true this idea is when he says, “Not only do you have to be highly independent, but you also need to be highly collaborative. Not only do you have to be able to dive into the details, but you also need to up-level and think strategically."
The Chief of Staff is regularly asked to flex between all areas of the business, looking for opportunities, while also identifying weaknesses. To say that it is a highly dynamic role that requires a high degree of context switching is an understatement.
As strategy and operations leaders, this is precisely what makes our roles challenging, but also so rewarding. While we may not be experts on every specific challenge we face, the ability to adjust our thought process and apply problem solving skills for any unique situation is what allows our companies to solve the complex challenges they face each day.
Interested in learning more about Split? Check out their site here.
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