The beginning of each year is a time for lists - Best Place to Work, Coolest Company to Work For, etc. We pour over them, as though there will be a truly new idea. Instead, we often find no new answers, no major discoveries.
So what is left to do? Take Action. Get your managers to live it. Get your leaders to model it. Get your employees to do it day in and day out with all of your customers. Easy, right?
For many CEOs we talk to, the road to becoming a Great Place to Work is slowed down by the details required to get there, leading to an unfortunate disconnect between the mission statement and the reality of organizational life. To better navigate the journey to greatness, many companies have found they need to hire a COO.
The COO serves as the bridge between the CEO and the rest of the company, between thought and action, demonstrating both the business and people skills to get the right things done. Most COOs are happy to work behind the scenes on operations matters only, helping to drive the CEOs vision. However, some of these individuals are more strategic while others are sales driven (think of a “Selling President”). Some even ascend to the CEO role - nice job Tim Cook!
What makes a great one?
First and foremost, top COOs keep their ego out of business decision making. Instinct, internal politics, and hunches take a backseat to accountability. COOs also tend to follow through on projects - tasks they are responsible for will be accomplished.
COOs often use data to make decisions. At the same time they know that some of the best ideas come from encouraging talent in the organization to speak up. As a result, they are often on the lookout for opportunities to develop others and create talent pipelines.
How do you hire a new COO?
The most important step is to understand yourself as a CEO and as a person:
What are your unique abilities (the things you love do and are good doing) and what are the work areas that you are less good at, and don’t like doing.
What is your leadership style?
What is your vision for the company and yourself?
What is your personality like?
Then look for a COO who uniquely compliments you!
Check out our prior article “The Seven Roles of the COO” for some additional perspectives.