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Traditionally the COOs of organizations are considered to be the right hand of the CEOs. Today in many cases their existence in the organization is based on helping to make the CEO’s vision a reality. The COO is expected to make the CEO more complete in his role. The role can be something like that of the Vice President who reports to the President. Let’s have quick look at the amazing role of COOs in the world of corporate.
One thing that becomes immediately clear when you start to examine the class of COOs is that there are almost no constants. People from a variety of backgrounds have ascended to the role and succeeded. This lack of a fixed pattern makes the job role hard to study and difficult to identify whether proper inferences are made when one COO is compared to another.
Marketers or salespeople who have polished up the skills of their trade can apply them to the business nature of various companies that too in good advantage. In the same manner, Financial and human resource executives likewise are schooled and practiced in standard ways of doing things.
But it’s hard to perceive whether a COO who has succeeded in one organization has what it takes to be in another because the skillset is neither generic nor very portable. The right qualifications for the COO role can shift even within a single company.
It’s also damn tough to pinpoint the kinds of corporate environments wherein which the COOs thrive. While COOs are generally seen in operations-intensive businesses, they also appear in various other sectors. Some organization may operate with a COO or without one. While in other cases, the company will turn responsibilities for all areas of business operations- which includes marketing and sales, production, research and development over to the COO.
What we can infer from all this is that there is no single agreed-upon description of what the job requires or what it even means from company to company. It’s purely based on the skills that a particular person has earned through experience incorporated. For example, we can take the scenario when Kevin Turner from Wal-Mart was appointed as COO of Microsoft.
The company stated that they appointed Turner as they wanted him to lead Microsoft’s efforts to grow the consumer products business using his retail experience. This is why the class of COOs remains mysterious. The role of a COO is socially, strategically, structurally, politically unique, and incredibly situational.
From all the content mentioned above, we can tell that the job of a COO simply defies the definition. But the actual fact is that the differences among COO roles arise from varied motives behind the creation of the position in the first place. According to researchers, there are seven basic reasons why companies hire a COO and these roles are not mutually exclusive. the seven roles are:
One of the crucial roles of a COO is to ensure the execution of strategies that are developed by the top management team. It’s a concession to the complexity of the CEO’s job today, with its numerous external commitments. Here, the COO takes responsibility for delivering results on a targeted basis.
Sometimes corporates appoint a COO to lead a specific strategically planned motive, such as a major organizational change, a turnaround, or a planned rapid market expansion. The magnitude of challenges that the agent faces demands a degree of unquestioned authority that is similar to that of an executor COO.
There have been times when companies have brought in a COO to mentor young or inexperienced CEO. This is because even rapidly growing entrepreneurial ventures that have the capability to conquer markets need industry veterans with wisdom, and a rich network who can develop both the CEO and the business.
The other half is brought in a company primarily to complement the CEO’s experience, knowledge, business style, or penchants. Most of the time it’s considered as a foil because the skillset of the COO will be contradictory to the ones of the CEO.
The majority of employees work best with partners and this goes the same for CEOs also. The CEO work with COO considering them as a partner, just like “two in a box” model or as “co-leadership.”
Most of the time, the reason to establish a COO position is to groom a company’s CEO-elect. The board will expect the CEO to learn the company’s environment, business style, and employees. The COO position is best to learn the company’s ways and approaches for an aspiring CEO.
Ultimately, some companies offer the job of COO as a promotion to executives who are too indispensable, particularly to a competitor. With this strategy, a company can set a timetable for leadership succession and to keep its high potential employees intrigued about what the future holds for them.
As we have said, these roles are not mutually exclusive. Even though it’s hard for a single person to do all of these roles, it’s possible for a COO to wear two of them simultaneously.
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Anyone who has worked as or alongside a COO will tell you that the job is demanding. The role is unique and can be effective in forestalling off wanderlust. As the key individual responsible for business transformation, definition and implementation of strategies; the COOs must be able to manage and inspire people at the highest level.
The nature of businesses is becoming more and more complex with the increase in the amount of litigation and regulation that needs to be navigated. With the COO being at the side, the CEO won’t be swamped with the details and minutiae that are outside the remit of the role.
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