The Chief Operating Officer (COO) is a role with a lot of responsibility for the company on its shoulders. According to Zippia, there are over 33,802 president and chief operating officers currently employed in the United States. Next to the CEO (Chief Executive Officer), the COO position is a vital component of making the day-to-day run smoothly for the business, but also that the future is considered for all decisions and systems. However, the role and duties are often misunderstood, which can hinder the success of the person in that position. There are seven general reasons why many companies hire a COO.
Bringing someone in to execute strategies and daily operations allows the CEO to focus on future possibilities for the business and focus on bigger-picture strategy and managing external relationships. The Executor COO takes the responsibility of being “heads down” and managing the day-to-day functions.
Agent of Change
When a company is on its last leg or stagnant, a COO can be the person to shake things up and add some drastic innovations into the mix. While they need to have an unquestioned authority, a COO for rapid strategic change can be what saves a business.
Some companies have younger, inexperienced founders or CEOs that need some guidance. In those cases, a COO can be brought on board as a mentor. They are usually experienced, successful business leaders who can show the newer leader the ropes. The CEO and the business can grow with their advice and management. This role will often become unneeded or be restructured over time.
On another note, a CEO can sometimes choose a COO that helps complement their leadership style. If the CEO is more stoic and linear, the COO could be friendlier and out-of-the-box. It’s more of a symbiotic relationship and role to round out strengths and weaknesses at the top.
At some stages of business, a CEO may realize they work better with someone. When this decision culminates in a COO, that role is generally a partnership in a way or a “co-leadership.” Some leaders are more effective when they have someone to bounce ideas off of, brainstorm solutions with, and to tag-team daily operations.
Often, the main reason for a COO is to act as an heir apparent. They will learn all of the facets of the company and be able to step in when the CEO is unavailable. While it doesn’t guarantee they will move into the CEO role, it does help show whether or not the person would be right for the CEO position in the future.
Last but certainly not least, an irreplaceable executive employee may be offered the role of COO so they feel valued and don’t leave to a competitor or for any other reason. It can also be a dodgy way of maintaining interest from executives and buying time. If the company wants more time to decide who may be a successor, restructuring leadership may appease the masses for a while.
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