So You’re Going to Be Chief of Staff
By Captain Paul Stader, Captain Bill Parker, and Captain Cathal O’Connor, U.S. Navy
Congratulations. Whether afloat or ashore, you have an opportunity to mentor commanders, coordinate the actions of a staff, and drive your principal’s agenda as the focal point for synchronizing decisions on personnel, operations, and strategy. Remember the staff works for the ships and subordinate commands, and not the other way around. It is the difference between being a taskmaster and enabling the force. Here are some suggestions to make your tour smoother and more productive.
This is your first and key focus of study. First, learn how your principal processes information. Does she have a laser-beam focus, assessing one item and making a decision before moving on? Does he absorb large amounts of data and then ruminate on the information for days or weeks? Does your boss lie somewhere in between? This is the most important thing to learn. It will impact the staff’s daily battle rhythm and guide how you run the office, adjusting your principal’s schedule to meet the deadlines.