Chief of Staff vs. Executive Assistant: Which Is Right for You?

Both roles work closely with the leadership of a company. However, their functions and duties vary. This blog will clearly explain the differences between the two roles and also highlight the benefits of hiring each for your business.

Chief of Staff vs. Executive Assistant: Which Is Right for You?
Chief of Staff vs. Executive Assistant

Ever wondered what separates a Chief of Staff from an Executive Assistant? Don't worry; you're not alone! It's a common dilemma. But don't worry, we're here to break it down in a way that's easy to understand.

Knowing the distinction between these roles can save you time and resources when it comes to hiring.

In this blog, we're going to finally get to the bottom of the Chief of Staff vs. Executive Assistant debate, giving you a crystal-clear picture of what each role entails. Plus, we'll throw in some insider tips on why hiring a VA might just be the smart move you've been looking for.

So, let's get started!


What does an Executive Assistant do?

As the title suggests, an Executive Assistant supports the Executive they work under. This could be a senior Executive, Chief Operating Officer, or CEO.

This is what an Executive Assistant does on the job:

Managing the Executive's calendar and schedule

An Executive Assistant books meetings and appointments for their boss. They are responsible for keeping the Executive on track regarding their daily commitments.

Handling phone calls, emails, and correspondence

From answering calls to taking down messages, Executive Assistants communicate on behalf of their boss. This includes contacting another company or authority and passing important information or orders. Executive Assistants also clear out junk e-mails and respond to important ones.

Arranging travel and accommodations

If an Executive travels, their assistant books the airline ticket and makes the hotel reservation. They also prepare the itinerary along with other necessary arrangements.

Assisting with personal and professional tasks

Executive Assistants help their boss in researching for a project. During a meeting, they take down notes. They also assist the Executive in handling expense reports.

Acting as a liaison between the Executive and other staff members

As their spokesperson, an assistant must communicate the Executive’s orders and decisions to the staff. The staff cannot contact the Executive directly. Their queries must go through the Executive Assistant.

The primary responsibilities of an Executive Assistant


Organizing and prioritizing tasks and projects

  • Organizing the Executive’s calendar and daily schedule in order of importance
  • Handling schedule clashes
  • Reminding the Executive of upcoming meetings and deadlines

Managing administrative and logistical tasks

  • Keeping track of the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of the Executive
  • Communicating on behalf of the Executive via phone, email, messages etc.
  • Client management
  • Planning and managing travel logistics, like meals, accommodations, and transportation

Providing research and analytical support

  • Assisting in research on relevant projects
  • Recording client data and information
  • Analyzing different aspects of the job to predict problems
  • Offering suggestions and solutions regarding event planning and projects

Preparing reports, presentations, and other materials

  • Preparing reports, spreadsheets, emails, presentations, and other important documents
  • Maintaining contacts database and filing systems
  • Taking down correct notes of a meeting

Maintaining confidentiality and discretion

  • Protecting sensitive information by sharing only with the right people
  • Installing necessary security measures on devices to prevent data leaks
  • Reporting any leaks or breaches

What does a Chief of Staff do?

chief of staff

The role of an Executive Assistant must be clear to you by now. But what is a Chief of Staff?

Think of the Chief of Staff as a senior project manager. They work alongside leaders and executives, not under them. Rather than focusing on an individual, a Chief of Staff looks after the administration of the entire organization.

So what does the Chief of Staff do? Here are their main functions:

Strategic planning and implementation

A Chief of Staff is a trusted advisor to the CEO. Together, they design and implement strategic objectives and goals. For example, they may identify problems in a process within the organization and improve or remove them.

Managing relationships and communications

A Chief of Staff ensures the smooth exchange of information between the departments. They also develop and maintain relationships with key stakeholders like partners, investors, and employees.

Project management and execution

Managing important projects is a big responsibility of a Chief of Staff. They work with various department leaders to ensure the job is finished on time, and within the given budget.

Acting as a sounding board for the Executive

A Chief of Staff assesses the cost, risks, and amount of work required for every new project. This allows the CEO and the executive board to make safe and profitable business decisions.

Streamlining operations and processes

An important Chief of Staff role is to monitor a company's and its staff's overall performance. This allows them to identify problem areas in need of improvement.

The primary responsibilities of a Chief of Staff

Chief of Staff responsibilities

Image source

Building and leading high-performance teams

  • Creating strategies to hire, train and keep the best talent
  • Maintaining a productive and positive work culture
  • Solving concerns of employees
  • Informing and including employees in management plans, objectives, and goals

Driving organizational change and growth

  • Putting good Human Resource Systems in place
  • Working closely with the executives to create and enforce strategies and goals
  • Managing company employees, resources, and budget
  • Measuring performance and identifying problem areas

Aligning the organization with the Executive's vision and goals

  • Informing important goals and objectives to the employees
  • Maintaining smooth communication and coordination between different departments
  • Looking after day-to-day operations to make sure everyone’s on the same page
  • Ensuring that projects finish on time

Managing crises and resolving conflicts

  • Evaluating and identifying potential risks
  • Creating strategies and safety plans to deal with the problems
  • Ensuring that operations run according to regulations and laws
  • Finding solutions to operational and management challenges

Acting as the Executive's trusted advisor and confidant

  • Analyzing business decisions for viability, budget, and risks
  • Maintaining discretion and confidentiality regarding important data
  • Taking on administrative responsibilities so that the CEO can focus on their job
  • Addressing employee problems and relaying only the most pertinent issues to the top management

How an Executive Assistant differs from a Chief of Staff

Executive Assistant and Chief of Staff differences

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As you have seen already, an Executive Assistant’s role is quite different from that of a Chief of State. Here are the main differences:

Tactical versus strategic focus

An Executive Assistant uses strategy, but their method is more tactical. They mostly deal with issues as they arise, whether it is a conflict of schedule or replying to an urgent message.

On the other hand, a Chief of Staff comes up with strategies at the business level. They must predict results and come up with a plan in advance.

Short-term versus long-term perspective

An Executive Assistant’s schedule can change every day. They must be quick to make adapt.

A Chief of Staff makes long-term action plans. They study and learn about all the departments to come up with a good strategy.

Support versus partnership role

An Executive Assistant works under an Executive. They make their boss' work easier.

A Chief of Staff works with the executives to come up with strategies and plans. They do not work under them. Their focus is on the entire company.

Execution versus decision-making

An Executive Assistant's main job is to follow orders. They must complete the tasks assigned by their superior.

A Chief of Staff gives orders and makes decisions. They watch over multiple departments, employees, and processes.

Can an Executive Assistant become a Chief of Staff?

Can an Executive Assistant become a Chief of Staff

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The Chief of Staff vs. Executive Assistant discussion clearly shows that the Executive Assistant position is junior to a Chief of Staff.

Is it possible for an Executive Assistant to become a Chief of Staff? Absolutely. To do that, an Executive Assistant must gain some important skills, such as:

Leadership and management skills

An Executive Assistant must become a leader. They should have the management skills to look after multiple group projects.

Strategic thinking and planning ability

An Executive Assistant should be able to plan bigger strategies. They must learn how the different departments of the company work together.

Strong communication and interpersonal skills

An Executive Assistant should be able to communicate clearly and confidently. They must also learn how to resolve conflicts.

Demonstrated ability to build and lead teams

An Executive Assistant must have a sharp eye for talent. That way, they can hire and retain the best employees.

Experience managing complex projects and initiatives

An Executive Assistant must learn how to analyze risks, and requirements and solve problems. They should advise the CEO on various issues.

Chief of Staff vs. Executive Assistant: which is right for you?

Chief of Staff vs. Executive Assistant: who should you hire? It depends on your business requirements and leadership style. Think about the following:

Business needs and priorities

What level is your business at? If your business needs basic systems like CRM and HR, go for a Chief of Staff. In case you have fewer employees and operations, Hire Executive Assistant.

Executive leadership style and strengths

If you like to take care of all important tasks yourself, hire Executive Assistant. If you can trust someone else to handle a project on their own, go for a Chief of Staff.

Organizational culture and values

If you want to motivate the employees to achieve company objectives, get a Chief of Staff. In case you work with self-motivated professionals, hire an Executive Assistant.

Available resources and budget

A Chief of Staff has a lot of experience. So, they will demand a higher salary (between $226,756 and $343,485 per year). If you cannot afford it, hiring an Executive Assistant would be cheaper (between $60K and $150K annually).

Future growth and expansion plans

If your company is ready to expand, hire a Chief of Staff. If your company is still young, hire an Executive Assistant instead. This will save you time and resources.

How to Hire an Executive Assistant or Chief of Staff

The right candidate can be hard to find. Luckily, there are a few good options to check out:

Virtual Assistant Services

This is the best option. They are affordable, fast, and offer many qualified candidates to choose from.


Referrals are trustworthy but takes a long time to find the right candidate.

Job Listings

This is a classic method. But it is time-consuming and can also be expensive.

Freelance platforms

You can quickly hire a freelancer. But can you trust them completely? That is always an issue.

Benefits of Outsourcing Executive Assistant Services to Wishup

Wishup - we build REmote team here

Compared to other assistants, the Executive Assistants of Wishup are highly skilled and trustworthy. They have been trained to communicate effectively with senior management.

Hiring from Wishup comes with many benefits, such as:


Wishup brings you the most qualified and trained Executive Assistants at an affordable price, starting at $999 a month. There are no hidden charges. We believe in transparency.

Work with the top 0.1% of applicants

Our Executive Assistants go through a proper screening and assessment process. They are given further training in-house so that you get the best of the lot.

Onboard in 24 hours

We match you with the right assistant based on your requirements. You can start working with your executive assistant within 24 hours of signing up.

7-Day trial with a money-back guarantee

At Wishup, we offer a 7-day trial period. Test our services and the quality of our assistants. If you are unsatisfied, we guarantee your money back.

Data is protected with NDAs

We value confidentiality and believe in protecting your data. Our assistants must all sign an NDA prior to being assigned to clients for extra safety.

Dedicated Account Manager

At Wishup, we have a team of dedicated Account Managers. They will look after your concerns and are focused on ensuring you have a pleasant client experience.



Hope this blog cleared the confusion around the Chief of Staff vs. Executive Assistant debate. To sum it all up, a Chief of Staff works alongside executives. They manage bigger projects and have administrative responsibilities. A Chief of Staff looks after the whole organization.

On the other hand, an Executive Assistant works under an Executive. They look after daily administrative tasks like taking messages, scheduling meetings, making reservations, etc.

Wishup is a leading platform for hiring qualified Executive Assistants at reasonable prices. Our assistants will handle all your administrative tasks and make your life easier.

Don’t take us at our word; schedule a free consultation with Wishup today, or drop a mail to [email protected].


Is the Chief of Staff higher than the Executive Assistant?

Yes, a Chief of Staff requires much more experience and skill than an Executive Assistant.

Is a Chief of Staff and Executive Position?

No, a Chief of Staff is a managerial position. They manage many departments, projects, and processes.