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Apr 2, 2024

BEHIND EVERY SUCCESSFUL CEO: THE UNSUNG HEROICS OF A COO


Am I getting a bit carried away?

Those who have never worked with a good Chief Operating Officer (COO) will say yes. Those who have will agree entirely.

 

The COO is often seen as the right hand of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and is tasked with overseeing the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of a company. But what qualities truly distinguish a good COO?

 

Strategic Vision and Operational Expertise

A good COO possesses a rare blend of strategic foresight and operational acumen. This individual not only sees the bigger picture but understands intimately how each cog in the machine fits and works together. They are adept at bridging the gap between the CEO’s strategic vision and the practicalities of operational execution, ensuring that the company’s direction is not just a concept but a reality that is implemented efficiently across all levels.

Leadership and Communication

Leadership is at the heart of the COO’s role. However, it’s not just about leading; it’s about inspiring and mobilising teams across the organisation. A good COO is an exceptional communicator, capable of conveying ideas clearly and persuasively, while also being an active listener. They foster a culture of transparency and collaboration, making every team member feel valued and understood. This approach not only drives operational efficiency but also nurtures a positive and inclusive workplace culture.

Adaptability and Problem-Solving

The business world is ever evolving, with challenges and opportunities arising at a dizzying pace. A good COO thrives in this environment, displaying remarkable adaptability and resilience. They have a knack for problem-solving, approaching obstacles with a creative and analytical mindset that ensures swift and effective solutions. This agility enables the company to pivot when necessary, capitalising on new opportunities while mitigating risks.

Financial Acumen

A deep understanding of the company’s financial workings is crucial for a COO. They need to be adept at budgeting, forecasting, and financial planning, ensuring that the company’s operations are not just effective but also economically viable. A good COO understands how operational decisions impact the financial health of the organisation and uses this knowledge to drive strategic choices that enhance profitability and sustainability.

The relationship with the CEO

In his great book, The Second in Command, Cameron Herold outlines perfectly the yin and yang relationship between the two and that 9 out of 10 COOs will not be a good fit for a CEO and how much care should be taken over getting the fit right. Science can, and must, be applied. We use Contribution Compass to assess the CEO to find out what would be their perfect match. This makes the hiring process more predictable.

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