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Published September 7, 2022

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6 mins read

How Emily Sander Runs Meetings as a Chief of Staff (From Scheduling to Strategy)

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Mary Nour

How Emily Sander Runs Meetings as a Chief of Staff (From Scheduling to Strategy)

Aiming to become chief of staff at your organization and searching for guidance from successful people in a similar role? This unique interview is just what you need.

Mastering the chief of staff position and all it entails needs a unique skill set from managing high-level meetings to connecting the dots and filling in the gaps. If you're looking to sharpen those skills, keep on reading.

Emily Sander has been in the business world for 15 years, having most recently served as Chief of Staff (CoS). She’s also an ICF-Certified leadership coach and founder of Next Level Coaching.

In this 700-word interview, she shares:

  • What it takes to be a good CoS
  • The number one task a CoS needs to focus on
  • How high-level meetings can be effective
  • And more

How do you describe a person that has what it takes to be a good CoS?

A good CoS needs to be observant, thoughtful, decisive, and objective. He/she needs to have a mix of being supportive and helpful and a go-to person for the leadership team and hold individuals on the leadership team –and the leadership team as a whole– accountable.

A CoS is a good consensus builder while being bold enough to act even when they know it's going to be unpopular (but it just needs to get done).

I am often referred to as the person who just "gets s**t done" or the "Chief-Get-S**t-Done-Officer." I just move things forward. It can be small nudges here and there or a proverbial 2x4 across the head. Have different tools in your toolbelt and know when to bring which ones out.

      "A CoS is a good consensus builder while being bold enough to act."

What's the number one task a CoS should focus on?

A CoS is a "Chief-Connect-The-Dotter" meaning they are in a unique position to see ACROSS the organization. When working with the executive leadership team, each member is rightfully focused on one area of the business. But I can see across departments. You can think about vertical silos and then a horizontal line or vantage point through all of them.

You need to be aware of what is happening across the organization, for example, see when something is going to drop, or someone thinks the other person has it covered, and that other person thinks they do. Then, take action to close that gap quickly.

This awareness can work "up" and "down" the organization as well. If you know there are discussions at the leadership level that will affect one team or group of people that aren't being considered, it's your job to bring that up (and offer some potential solutions).

           "A CoS is in a unique position to see ACROSS the organization."

How should a CoS make her/his calls?

It's important that the CoS is seen as objective. Not that they don't have an opinion on anything, but they aren't overly biased toward one department or team over the other. There’s no agenda other than what is best for the company overall. A sales leader is going to advocate for his team, and an operation leader is going to vouch for what her team needs. A CoS will look at what is most favorable to the company in that particular situation.

     "A good CoS has no agenda other than what is best for the company overall."

What's an important skill a CoS needs to focus on?

You need to be very cognizant of how you manage time: yours and your boss'. My boss is the CEO and I also work very closely with the rest of the leadership team. If I want to call a meeting with one or all of them, I can. But I know each time I do that, it's pulling their time away from something else. It must be worth it. You should know when to make that call and when not to.

Sometimes a meeting is clearly needed, but it's no one else's "job" per se to organize a meeting and so no one does it. A CoS can step into those gray areas and bring people together for a conversation and help structure or facilitate it as needed.

         "A CoS can step into gray areas and bring people together."

How do you describe effective high-level meetings?

Meetings should have a clear agenda and objective(s). You should know what you want the meeting to accomplish by the end and let others know as well. Another key aspect is how you frame the conversation: why we're talking about this, what we're talking about in this meeting, and what we’re not talking about.

For example, if you call a meeting to resolve a technical issue that is affecting all clients, make it clear this meeting is about resolving the issue quickly and communicating updates to our customers.

It's not a blame game or time to point fingers, we're all on the same team. It might be facilitating what information from the end-users would be helpful to the technology team to troubleshoot and then getting the team leaders of client-facing teams to collect that info and relay it back. A post-mortem debrief on what caused the issue and what can be done to prevent it will come later. Right now, it's about solving the problem.

Being forward-thinking, proactive, solution-oriented, and organized all help here. Meetings or calls can be as short as 10 min, but we all know sometimes it is just easier to talk to someone about it vs. having eight different email threads with different people on each. Sometimes for long-term initiatives, maintaining an ongoing regular cadence of meetings is extremely beneficial for it to stay on track.

Emily's contact details:

To wrap up

A CoS is one that should be geared with unique skills, on top of which is successful management of the organization's most senior leadership team meetings. A CoS should prepare solid meeting agendas and manage the right type of dialogue to help the team make decisions.

And to succeed in such a task, a CoS needs all the help they can get. Today, technology offers incredible solutions. A CoS can make use of a platform like adam.ai.

adam.ai is the ONLY B2B SaaS all-in-one meeting platform that manages the entire meeting lifecycle and is fully connected to business activities to help organizations run business, get things done, close projects, and achieve goals through effective meetings.

Using adam.ai, a CoS can reduce meeting times, avoid unnecessary meetings that translate into lost money, and increase their organization's profit.

And while there may be multiple meeting management solutions available, here is why adam.ai is the all-in-one meeting management platform you can trust:

  • adam.ai is one of Atlassian Ventures' portfolio companies.
  • In the meeting management software category on G2, adam.ai has been ranked a leader and a high performer for successive quarters in the past years.
  • adam.ai has been included in the Forrester Report in the AI-enabled meeting technology landscape.
  • adam.ai is trusted and used by powerful teams and organizations worldwide for all types of critical meetings, like board, committee, project management, and business development meetings.
  • And most importantly, adam.ai integrates with your existing workflow, is SOC2 compliant, provides dedicated support and success, and has a free trial option.
Transform how you conduct critical meetings—From meticulous preparation to effective execution and insightful follow-up, adam.ai integrates comprehensive analytics, full customization, and intuitive interfaces with powerful meeting management tools.
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Mary Nour

About the author ...

Content creator, eager learner, and an animal lover.

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