The DNA of the COO
Making the contacts, managing the politics
“The management team may reach a decision that meets their strategic objectives, but the COO should be there to bring things back to reality if those plans are too difficult or costly to implement”
Frila Berlini Yaman, COO of MedcoEnergi Internasional.
COOs must manage in three directions: downwards, by building trust with the workforce; upwards, by creating a strong bond with the CEO and the board; and outwards, by developing positive interactions with suppliers, customers and investors.
This complex web requires COOs to act simultaneously as diplomats, brokers, influencers, leaders and listeners. They must also be able to adapt their leadership style to suit different audiences, while maintaining consistency in their behavior.
Team dynamics in the C-suite
The role of a COO is highly dependent on the context of the company’s particular industry, as well as the internal dynamics and politics of the management team. They are expected to complement other members of the management team and adapt according to the needs of the company’s current situation.
Among those polled for this research, these issues seem to be well understood, with 87% saying that they have established a strong network with other senior management team members.
Strengths of COO’s business relationship with internal stakeholders
(Percentage of respondents who have chosen 9 or 10 on a scale from 1 = needs substantial improvement to 10 = absolutely excellent)
The CEO: If you get just one partnership right, make it this one
The relationship between the CEO and COO is arguably the most important for the company’s success. It is also the most vital for the COO’s overall career. When asked about the importance of a range of C-suite executives to the development of the COO’s career, the CEO stands head and shoulders above the rest.
The COO as challenger
With a clear understanding of the company’s assets and capabilities, the COO can also challenge the CEO’s strategic thinking, and participate in defining it. Visionary ideas may sound good in the executive suite, but without the COO’s endorsement on their feasibility, they count for very little.