Jun 10, 2019

3 Questions to Ask Before Extending an Offer to an Integrator (COO)

If you are the Visionary (CEO) of a small to medium-sized company, you may feel that your firm has reached the stage where you need to hire a second-in-command to help you manage the business.

The demands on your time may have been distracting you from doing the things you enjoy, such as bringing in business and cultivating new relationships.

Are you ready to hire an Integrator to help you run the firm? Authors Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters defined the roles of CEO and COO as Visionary and Integrator in their book Rocket Fuel. As the Visionary, you are the creative spark behind your business. You are full of many ideas. You need a partner to help you manage the company’s human resources department, to ensure marketing and sales are working well together, and to oversee critical departments to make sure they meet their goals.

In Rocket Fuel, Wickman explains that “Integrators are typically very good at leading, managing, and holding people accountable. They love running the day-to-day aspects of the business. They are accountable for profit and loss, plus the overall business plan of the organization. They remove obstacles so that people running the major functions can execute.”

Before choosing the Integrator, ask yourself these three questions:

1. Can the candidate challenge you as the CEO/Visionary?

This company is your “baby,” you built it from scratch. While you may not have the answers about how to get warring managers to work well together, you do have a vision for the business. You want to hire an Integrator whose vision matches your own. You don’t want him to challenge every decision that you make.

In your interview, test the candidate by putting him or her through some scenarios that you may have recently encountered at work. Give the individual a series of choices about how (s)he can solve the problems and see what they decide. Is the decision-making of your potential Integrator aligned with yours? Can the candidate see the relevant issues and zero in on solutions?

You want to hire a second-in-command who is the Yin to your Yang, someone that has strengths in your areas of weakness. When the right V/I match is made, there is bound to be some healthy tension at times. The term “RocketFuel” is used to describe the magic that comes from this altering relationship.

2. Is the candidate different from you? Does (s)he bring to the table enough skills and qualities that will help balance the skills and talents you bring to bear on the tasks at hand?

To answer this question, reflect on the EOS® delegate and elevate™ tool.

If you and your candidate list the items that you love to do and are great at, you might find that you register different things. The Integrator candidate might list “solving people problems” and “following up on Operations goals.” As the Visionary, you might list “bringing in new business” and “creating new relationships to build the company.”

As you review the items in the list of “Don’t Like/Not Good,” you will see the tasks that you need to delegate to your Integrator. If they include “overseeing Finance and Administration,” and this is an item that your Integrator candidate has listed as something (s)he loves to do, you know you have come across someone with the skills you need.

Also, don’t hesitate to be honest with yourself about what you, as CEO, don’t like to do. You are only human, and you have strengths and innate abilities. You need to focus on the tasks that build on your capabilities and delegate those that you don’t like to do.

As you run through this list with your Integrator candidate, you may learn more about him/ her and how well the Integrator can assimilate into your business and be the perfect teammate for you.

3. Are you excited about the possibility of working with this Integrator candidate? It can’t all be analytical. There needs to be a cultural fit, as well. The two of you will spend much time together. How does that make you feel?

In their blog about Visionaries and Integrators, the team at EOS stated,

“An Integrator is the person who is the tie-breaker for the Leadership Team, is the glue for the organization, holds everything together, beats the drum (provides cadence), is accountable for the P&L results, executes the business plan, holds the Leadership Team accountable, and is the steady force in the organization.

The Integrator also creates organizational clarity, communication, and consistency; typically (but not always) operates more on logic; drives results; forces resolution, focus, team unity, prioritization, and follow-through; is the filter for all of the Visionary’s ideas; harmoniously integrates the Leadership Team; and helps to remove obstacles and barriers.”

Are you excited about having this “tie-breaker” as your partner? Do you and (s)he have a good time together when you have lunch outside the office? Do you share interests? Does your candidate share your company’s values? Is the individual going fit well into your culture?

If you feel comfortable with your Integrator candidate, think that (s)he will add something valuable to your leadership team and your company, then these instincts are essential. These feelings can go a lot farther than seeing what awards she won in previous companies. You want to choose a second-in-command whom you will enjoy being with, and one on whom you can rely.


Jayson Dubin, CEO of Playwire, wrote a blog stating that “hiring a COO was the best thing I ever did for my business.” Dubin confessed that many of his early processes were need-based and arose from a specific set of circumstances. “Hiring a COO with Fortune 500 experience,” he wrote, “allowed us to address our organizational needs in a much more strategic, comprehensive and ‘big picture’ manner.”

The result was that Dubin was able to fill the pipeline with substantial deals and give his company the potential to triple in size in the coming months.

For you to have an Integrator by your side who is managing the business and professionally addressing organizational issues, will be a whole new way of running your business. As the Visionary, you are the creative spark, the inspiration, and nothing will help you achieve your vision more than choosing the right Integrator to implement your dreams.

 You may also like:
  1. Visionaries: Tips for Finding Your Integrator Match
  2. 10 Integrator Interview Questions
  3. The Abridged Guide to Hiring a Chief Operating Officer, containing top considerations for CEOs and Business Owners when hiring a COO

The Abridged Guide to Hiring a COO



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