A COO’s role should be more than about making the CEO look good

The role of a Chief Operating Officer might be clear for the CEO – however is it actually understood by the Board of Directors? Well, all of them suppose a COO has a distinct sort of role to play than the CEO. Well, what precisely is that distinction?

Ideally, the COO should work carefully with the CEO, and should be able to put on the CEO hat if warranted. There have been cases the place these two roles don’t get aligned nicely, resulting in disruptions in the strategic execution. Is the COO actually the No. 2 in the enterprise? Is it like the vice-president role in the US?

The Board of Directors should have a transparent understanding of how the No. 2 govt performs the vital role. Unfortunately, there isn’t any single job description accessible for a COO in case you evaluate the identical throughout organisations.

A COO can complement the chief with experience in operations, finance, expertise, or a selected division of the firm. Some say the COO’s role is declining as organizations flatten, however world turmoil since 2020 has made operational experience more very important.

What about the COO’s relationship with the board? How do administrators form the correct stability between their role, that of the CEO and the operations chief?

Shape company agenda

A CEO faucets the COO’s expertise and knowhow for board-effective operations. COOs wrote their board assembly agenda and ensured that the board prep bundle wasn’t a dissertation thesis. In between the CEO’s strategic objectives for board conferences and the firm secretary’s admin duties, the COO can fill an important role in shaping the agenda to assist priorities, guarantee data is board-usable and informative, and appearing as a conduit for board suggestions.

The COO is a vital ‘make it occur’ participant in expertise planning and growth. The board and chief govt should have a strong plan for succession and how one can make it work – beginning with all-around settlement on the place the COO’s path is aiming.

The Sheryl Sandberg means

Most COOs don’t need to be a CEO, as per current analysis. For occasion, Sheryl Sandberg whose talent as COO at Meta/Facebook made her more well-known than most CEOs. A sound succession plan lets the board know whether or not to help in grooming the COO for the prime job, or to faucet the role’s operational abilities in different methods.

The COO can even assist expertise growth by appearing as an middleman in exposing hi-pots to the board. He/she will convey VPs to board conferences to do displays and groom their abilities, and showcase the expertise inside the group. This actually might help elevate their sport.

That ‘O’ in the center of the COO title has confirmed more essential, as the world Covid trauma, and now struggle in central Europe, present simply how simply practical points can cripple companies. The board should attain out to the COO on operational effectiveness. Lockdowns, provide chain disruptions, logistical nightmares, and most of all, expertise shortages and churn have gone from being tactical complications to life and demise issues that each board should monitor.

A supreme mixture, no much less. Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg took on well-defined roles in scripting the Facebook development story. Now, Sheryl has stepped down from her all-encompassing role as COO.
Image Credit: AFP

Always in CEO’s shadow

The COO must be briefing administrators on the nuts and bolts of manufacturing, folks, suppliers and prospects. Wrestling with these calls for is of their day by day portfolio, and good CEOs allow them to take the boardroom lead on them.

Finally, good board members use discretion in balancing their rising want for COO communication with the role of their chief govt. We imagine most board members wouldn’t go to the COO to work round the CEO.

One of the core jobs of the COO is to make the CEO look good. They must ship the entire image to the board whereas not throwing the CEO underneath the bus. Effective CEOs don’t begrudge their COO a board role, and respect their worth as a governance assist.

Effective boards faucet this useful resource as a complement to the CEO role, and as somebody who might help them to be higher fiduciaries.


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