Post Emmy Thoughts for a Chief of Staff
By Joy Murphy, Senior Partner
The star-studded Emmy awards give us a chance to see our favorite actors dressed to the nines, while we hope to toast their success as they deliver an emotional, grateful, and often humorous acceptance speech. A few of this years’ winners shared words that left an imprint on my mind that provide strong reminder messages for the Chief of Staff role.
No Easy Wins
After four decades, Henry Winkler accepted his award on Monday night, sharing advice received earlier in his career, if you stay at the table long enough, the cards will eventually go your way. Perseverance with challenges are often recognized within work, but as Henry Winkler experienced with hundreds of roles including the famous Arthur Fonzarelli (“The Fonz”), sometimes, presence and staying power are the keys to success. Whether it is a specific issue the organization is facing that requires consistent steady leadership or waiting to find the right role that highlights your success, it can often just take time to get the cards and your career to go your way.
Recognizing you’re on a journey and road to success, when quarter to quarter or year to year you feel you’re lacking results, can be a key milestone to celebrating a big win, as Winkler did, in the long run. Most careers do not have easy wins and require staying power.
Finding the Right Chief of Staff Role
The Chief of Staff can look completely different depending on the leader and organization. It is important to find the right Chief of Staff role that leverages everything you can bring to the table. With Alex Borstein’s best supporting actress win, Instagram was flooded with reminders of her less notable, but still memorable acting roles, like the Lizzy McGuire movie. Her previous roles did provide a format for her to truly showcase her abilities. With Mrs. Maisel’s lead actress, Rachel Brosnahan, also taking home an Emmy, one could argue that their partnership on the show—working together, playing off each other—helped create an environment for them to both truly shine.
We all must do jobs in our career that aren’t the beacon to our future, as Borstein did, but with hard work, exploration, and knowing yourself, Chiefs of Staff can find the right role, with an executive partner that brings them both to a desired and recognized level of success.
Becoming a Chief of Staff
On the road to becoming a Chief of Staff, we can often feel pulled into various interest areas, knowing enough to be dangerous in many areas, but not finding a role that gives you the runway to cultivate all those talents and competencies. Glenn Weiss accepted an Emmy for directing, and took the opportunity to clarify the role and gratitude he had for his girlfriend, stating to her, “You wonder why I don’t like to call you my girlfriend? Because I want to call you my wife,” leading to an on-screen proposal [swoon]. One can infer his girlfriend, Jan Svendsen, felt she lacked appreciation and the title of girlfriend while acting as that for Weiss (apparently very well since he asked her to marry him).
It can be frustrating to not feel valued for all you are able to contribute as a professional or not have a stronger definition for your role that is known as “the person who handles everything” for an executive. Like Svendsen’s case, there may be parameters outside your realm of understanding that prevent you from assuming the true Chief of Staff role: budget, internal seniority, etc. Our work at Prime strives to bring a stronger definition to the Chief of Staff role and support prospective Chiefs of Staff as they grow. You may find yourself not fitting in as the best manager or associate at your company, because you were meant to be called a Chief of Staff.