Responsibilities of the COO differ according to the operational structure, needs of the company and the vertical.
The Chief Operating Officer / COO, sometimes termed the Vice President – Operations, is more than just a C-Suite leader overseeing a company’s operations. The daily responsibilities of the COO can be different, depending on the operational structure, needs of the company and the vertical. In some businesses, a COO may be more involved with the development of operations strategy and maintaining the company’s financial health, but in others, it may just be a traditional role of handling the daily business operations.
A COO is the 2nd-in-Command, but is that all it is?
A COO’s role is dependent on the dynamics shared with the CEO and only when its full potential is utilized by all the decision-makers can the two powerhouses help in paving the company’s path towards success as a COO is there to help make CEO’s vision a reality. According to Harvard Business Review’s research understanding what makes for a successful chief operating officer is vital because the effectiveness of COOs is critical to the fortunes of many companies. Successful COOs are process-oriented, analytical and, enjoy designing and implementing the organizational frameworks required for success. They will have strong interpersonal skills and be an excellent communicator, as much time is spent sharing the company’s mission, vision and strategic goals across the organization, uniting the staff in their efforts to work toward a common end.
The problem will only arise and hamper the development of the organization when mistakes are made when selecting a COO for the organization. The CEO and team should chalk out the specifications and the needs of their position and that of their company before selecting a COO and formulating a job description.
- Invest time and research before choosing a candidate
- Depending on the profile of the chosen COO, reorganize the operational structure
- Distribution of power needs to be done wisely and with consultation
- Divide who will concentrate on business and who will concentrate on product
With these points acting as a guiding tool, any leadership team can plan to hire or utilise the right COO for their organizations. But this is not the only aspect that an organization needs to be concerned with.
What should a COO lookout for to ensure the organization climbs the ladder of success?
- A COO needs to implement, communicate and support the strategies created by the CEO and other senior executives
- They need to spearhead and lead initiatives including large-scale shifts in the company leading the charge to decrease the business’s turnaround time
- During various instances, a COO must act as a mentor to new and inexperienced C-Suite level leaders, team leads and those with the potential to become the next leaders
- The COO serves to complement the skills, style and expertise of the CEO, becoming the “other half” of the senior management team. Sometimes they make the good cop-bad cop combination to help the wheels of the company run smooth
- Having a COO as the better half of the CEO can address the needs for dependent and balanced leadership
- A COO should also need to be – Organizational, administrative and leadership skills; be Goal-oriented and results-driven; Decision-making and delegation; Critical thinking and multitasking
The primary goal that a COO and CEO need to be focused on is that they both need to be aligned and coordinated in terms of their planning and operations. Only if a COO is in sync with the CEO and other C-Suite level leaders will the company progress towards achieving success. But real success will be allowed only when a leader is allowed to execute his role as dynamic as an operating officer without any hindrance and interference.
By Suchit Karnik, COO, RAH Infotech