Why CEOs Need COOs?

Nov 1, 2022 | COO Best Practices, COO Insights, COO/CEO Dynamics, New COO

Chief Operating Officer (COO) must be trustworthy, and the CEO must actually like working with them. Having a COO might be the most important factor in success in the leadership team. Below you will learn the benefits of having a COO on your team.  

As reported by Forbes on June 25. 2021 by Rachel Carpenter.

COO: A Startup CEO’s Secret Weapon

Billionaire fund manager Ray Dalio recently collaborated with expert psychologists to develop a free online personality test based on recent research in personality science, as well as Dalio’s business experience. As a fintech entrepreneur, I’m constantly evolving as a leader, and I share his emphasis on the importance of knowing exactly who you are.

I took the test, and my results were hardly surprising. I ranked off the charts for “entertainer,” “adventurer” and “inventor” and abysmally for “technician” and “implementer.” Dalio’s test defines me as an “Enthusiastic Creator.” It’s the blueprint for a startup CEO.

You might be worried for me — and that would be fair. Scaling a company requires quite a bit of “technicality” and “implementation.” Fear not: I have a secret weapon. My COO took the test, and I’ll bet you can guess where he scored high. He’s a “producer” and an “architect,” thankfully. It takes two to tango.

An organized, data-driven, process-oriented leader is a critical component of any leadership team. It’s a secret weapon that smart, self-aware leaders take advantage of. A good operational leader will enjoy setting up or improving systems and processes, monitoring them and keeping them moving, and managing transitions.

Whether you choose a more junior-level chief of staff or a full-blown COO executive, you’ll want to make sure there is a strong degree of trust and that you actually like working with them. This is underrated and overlooked, but it might be the most important factor in the success of my leadership team.

This type of position has become increasingly popular among tech startups. If you’re the CEO of a fintech startup or technology-oriented firm, below are five reasons a chief of staff or COO could be your next secret weapon.

1. You Can’t Do It All

Understanding what you’re the best at (and what nobody else can do) is your north star. Let go of the rest. Delegate or die. This is critical in all stages of growth and at every company size. You must divide and conquer, leaving space for you to perform optimally in the areas where you excel. If you hire well, your chief of staff or COO will take the reins in the areas that don’t point toward your north star.

2. You’re Bad at Operations

Don’t panic. If you were good at running detailed operations, you’d be a bad founder/CEO. Those are two entirely different skill sets, and an operationally oriented team member will grease the wheels for you. Your brain is built for the big picture, and details likely frustrate you and bog you down. Let someone fill in where you fall short.

3. You’ll Be Pulled Away From The Details

As your business grows, you will be increasingly pulled away from day-to-day operations and details. This is also a good thing. Your attention will be divided across fundraising, public relations, partnerships, travel and more. Your role is inward and outward facing. Even if you were good at operations, it would become increasingly infeasible for you to keep a handle on them.

4. You Need an Advisor And Confidante

When you move further away from the day-to-day, it becomes increasingly important for you to have eyes and ears on the ground so you don’t lose touch. A right-hand (wo)man can serve as an advisor and confidante to keep you appropriately up to speed and aware of any red flags or looming issues.

5. If You’re Scaling, Things Will Break

If you’re doing your job and growing the business, old processes and procedures will start to break. Oftentimes, you won’t know you’ve outgrown something until it breaks. Let’s be honest: You won’t have time to fix it, and structural implementation is likely not your jam. A chief of staff or COO will make sure the ship is consistently prepared for bigger and bigger waves.

6. Focus On Your Strengths

A high-functioning leadership duo operates with speed, precision and impact. This combo is a force multiplier for results, but allowing someone to help takes courage, humility and self-awareness.

Knowing who you are is the most powerful weapon you can wield. Many people live in constant denial, unable to accept where they shine and where they struggle.

If you’re the CEO or founder of a fintech startup or technology-oriented firm, the chances are you’re the best at what you do. Focus on that, and let an operational expert be your secret weapon.

Having someone that can help take away some of the stress and can manage day-to-day tasks are key to a successful business. That is why a COO is important to a start-up company. They are the right-hand person for any CEO.

Relevant Resources

8 Keys to Effective COO-CEO Relationship

Chief Operating Officers Leadership Style

Seven Roles of the COO

COO to CEO Succession Planning


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