Good CEO – COO partnerships are described as Visionary and Integrator roles by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters in their book Rocket Fuel.
They describe the COO, or Integrator as “very good at leading, managing, and holding people accountable. They love running the day-to-day aspects of the business. They enjoy being accountable for profit and loss, and the execution of the business plan.”
3 Common Statements Made by Visionaries
Oftentimes, a Visionary can get himself caught in the weeds with these three beliefs. An Integrator can help in the following ways.
- When a Visionary says, “This is going to work,” the Integrator will check and ask: How do you know it’s going to work? Did you do your research? Do you have all the facts? Is everything in place for it to be successful?
- The Visionary is also adept at saying, “Everything is going well,” because he is flying around the country giving enthusiastic pitches to potential investors and courting new customers. But is he being overly confident or not skeptical enough?
- A Visionary may also make the sweeping claim, “That person is going to work out,” but you know from experience that Visionaries are not good at holding people accountable. In his book Traction, Wickman advises Visionaries to take “the long view,” when dealing with personnel issues. “Sometimes this means eliminating or changing seats that are no longer relevant…you must make sure you have the right structure in place to get you to the next level.”
Perhaps the Visionary has hit a threshold: with all his creative ideas and drive, he is overwhelmed by the prospects that he imagines before him. The Integrator can bring him back to earth, can look at the fine print, the details, analyze the spreadsheets and determine if this is indeed the time to launch a new product, to expand sales into 10 new states, to hire new marketing staff.
The Integrator can put the brakes on the Visionary’s dreams of expansion if the time is not right, according to the data.
Let the Integrator step in and offer some perspective: Do the Visionary’s current ideas for growth align with the realities of the company? Does the Visionary have a good sense of the key priorities? Is the Visionary willing to let go?
A Harris Interactive/Franklin Covey poll of over 23,000 employees in key industries shed light on this issue, reported Wickman and Winters. The poll revealed that 37 percent of employees didn’t understand their companies’ priorities. Only one in five was enthusiastic about their organization’s goals, and only one in five saw a clear connection between their tasks and the organization’s goals. Does the Visionary get this? Is his latest exciting dream for the business rooted in reality? The Integrator can often stop him in his tracks and ask him the tough questions.
Your Integrator doesn’t want the Visionary to color the picture he is describing to investors and others with overly optimistic shades. The Integrator has the spreadsheets at hand, and if he agrees, “Everything is going well,” he has the numbers to back up this assertion.
Often, Visionaries don’t have the time to address these issues and at the same time move the business forward.
That’s where the Integrator can step in to make sure that the manager in question GWC the role (“gets it, wants it, can do it”). The Integrator may decide to put the individual in another role in the company if the individual wants a job transfer. But more likely than not, the individual in question may need to be transitioned out of the company and the firm needs to hire someone new.
Do you find that your CEO is optimistic by nature? Does he come into headquarters each morning with an ebullient personality, firing on all cylinders, ready to take on the world? If so, his attitude is in keeping with that of other CEOs.
According to a new study by researchers from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, chief executive officers in the U.S. are more optimistic about life than are members of the general population.
The study’s authors, professors Manju Puri, Campbell Harvey, and John Graham, scrutinized 3000 personality tests to draw their conclusions.
The professors found that the CEOs, besides being optimistic about life in general, were upbeat about the prospects of their businesses and were more willing to take risks than members of the general population.
According to the test results, 80% of U.S. CEOs are what the researchers dub “very optimistic” people. That compares with only 65% of chief financial officers who are presumably less optimistic than CEO’s because they cover the companies’ finances, reported Forbes.
Certainly, optimism is a desirable trait in a CEO. But it takes the gravity of the COO, or Integrator, to often bring the CEO down to earth. While the CEO’s optimism has its place and can energize the company and its employees, the Integrator can work in the firm’s best interest by ensuring that all the CEO’s rosy predictions for the future can be supported by real data.
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