What Is a Chief Operating Officer and Why Do You Need One?
A Chief Operating Officer or COO is responsible for overseeing operations and strategies in a company, often the number two to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
The role of COO can sometimes be a bit ambiguous or misunderstood, but typically a COO is tasked with ensuring systems/processes are smooth, carrying out operations in the company, identifying gaps, and room for improvements, and crafting strategies for long term growth.
Sometimes, COOs are tasked with rounding out a CEOs weaknesses. Often they are the executing arm to the CEOs visionary role. And, in other instances the CEO + COO might have more of a collaborative partnership. It often depends on what the CEO is looking for, and what the company needs, that will determine exactly how the COO carries out their role.
Because the role of COO can be misunderstood, it is important to point out what COOs are not. COOs are not business coaches, business managers, nor are they executive level personal assistants. Business coaches often coach CEOs around executive leadership and personal development, they generally do not have a stake in the company, nor do they have sway in business decision making. Business managers typically execute on daily, weekly, monthly tasks, as dictated by the needs and goals of leadership. Business managers aren’t responsible for developing strategies alongside the leadership team. And lastly, executive personal assistants are responsible for the calendar, appointments etc., of the CEO. Executive personal assistants are not tasked with the big picture, forward thinking strategies, responsible for scaling a company.
Per “Make Operations Your Secret Weapon” in First Round Review, “A COO helps you cover double the ground, as well as double down. She should be seen as a multiplier.”
With an eye to the future, the ability to perform big picture thinking alongside delegation and execution, COOs can be vital to a growing company. If the systems you started with no longer work, if you’re seeing weakness in developing growth strategies, it might be time to bring in a COO…or a Fractional COO.