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What does a Deputy Chief do?

By J. Airman
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A deputy chief is the position second in command for a variety of public and private sector operations. The job description of a deputy chief is usually described by the acting chief or leader. Deputy chief officers may be commissioned to act as the leader in times when the chief is not available. Many deputy chiefs also play the role of liaison between upper and lower ranks to facilitate vertical communication. Positions for deputy chiefs are most often filled through an election or direct hire process.

Deputy chief executive officers are typically in regular contact with the current head of operations. Successful companies and government agencies frequently have good relationships between chief officers and their deputies. The work of a deputy may change on a daily basis as he or she is asked to carry out the orders of the acting chief officer. Failures and successes of a deputy chief are ordinarily seen as indicators of how the person would lead if given a chance. Many deputy chiefs see their time at the job as a trial period for promotion to the chief executive officer position.

The deputy chief of a business firm is often tasked with efficiently coordinating the efforts of other company officers. Department heads generally report directly to the deputy on company-wide concerns and matters of great importance. Staff meetings and individual briefings are customarily headed by the deputy chief of a corporation or office. Deputy chiefs supervise company workflow and employee productivity to inform their own management decisions and those made by the chief.

Most people are familiar with deputy chief of police characters from Western movies. The second in charge position still exists in police forces. Small towns with only a few law officers may have one sheriff or chief of police and a couple of deputy officers. Deputy officers are typically paired with new hires to train them thoroughly before they work alone.

Sometimes the job of the current deputy in charge is to take all of the blame for the failures of the group and none of the credit for the successes. This thankless task keeps the chief in the best possible light in the eyes of the lower ranks and the public. The chief officer customarily reciprocates for this act of altruism by protecting the job of the deputy and defending the deputy's authority. A level of trust becomes an important part of the executive chief and deputy relationship.

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Discussion Comments

By backdraft — On Nov 29, 2011

In some cases being a deputy chief is harder than being an actual chief. This is because deputy chiefs are usually responsible for knowing how to do every single duty. They are the ones that actually have to facilitate the projects.

This is the case in a lot of hierarchical systems. The people at the top have a lot of responsibility but they have fewer tasks. The people several steps below them are the ones that actually have to pull the long nights and sweat through all the details.

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