Demystifying the Role of COO

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As we’ve seen again and again in today’s ever-changing business landscape, advancements in technology, expectations among the workforce, and an evolving, global market have altered the game across every industry and in every C-level role.

Nowhere is this more apparent than that of the Chief Operations Officer. What was once a rather straightforward position has morphed into a multi-faceted, industry-specific specialty with extraordinary expectations.

“With market shocks and stresses appearing more frequently in a fast-paced post-pandemic world, companies that wish to thrive recognize the need for a strong COO to future-proof their operations, successfully guiding them to adapt and lead,” Forbes.

As the definition of COO continues to expand, the depth and breadth of their expertise is expected to keep up. While there was a time when overseeing logistics was the primary responsibility of the position, today’s COOs serve a vital role in multiple places within an organization.

Forbes says “Going beyond overseeing operations and becoming a cross-functional networker, today’s COOs have the power to support a culture of growth, agility, and resilience, thus gaining greater innovation, better collaboration, more engaged employees, and stronger financial performance.”

Clearly, the job is quite unique. So much so that Harvard Business Review identified seven ways COOs are being integrated into the highest levels of management in organizations around the globe:

  1. The Executor: One role of a COO is to lead the execution of strategies developed by the top management team…typically takes responsibility for delivering results on a day-to-day, quarter-to-quarter basis.
  1. The Change Agent: Some companies name a COO to lead a specific strategic imperative, such as a turnaround, a major organizational change, or a planned rapid expansion.
  1. The Mentor: Some companies bring a COO on board to mentor a young or inexperienced CEO (often a founder).
  1. The Other Half: A company may bring in a COO not as a mentor, but as a foil, to complement the CEO’s experience, style, knowledge base, or penchants.
  1. The Partner: Sometimes, the CEO is simply the kind of person who works best with a partner. This can lead to what’s been called a “two in a box” model and is similar to what authors David Heenan and Warren Bennis have termed “co-leadership.
  1. The Heir Apparent: In many cases, the primary reason to establish a COO position is to groom—or test—a company’s CEO-elect. The broad purview of the job allows an heir apparent to learn the whole company: its business, environment, and people
  1. The MVP: Finally, some companies offer the job of COO as a promotion to an executive considered too valuable to lose, particularly to a competitor.

As is the case when hiring any C-Level executive, the needs of your business and industry will dictate who is best suited to fill the role. And, TZR are the experts who can help you find that talent.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to Operations. The knowledge and skills required to successfully serve as COO will vary based on the strengths and weaknesses of your company and those that keep it running on a day-to-day basis.

TZR can help you assess and identify the best of today’s COOs who are ready to rise to your challenges that require innovation and level-headed management.

What is clear, given the various expectations surrounding the role of COO in today’s business landscape, is that organization’s looking to find the right fit have a lot to consider.

At TZR, we pull from a network of highly-qualified professionals from diverse backgrounds. Our talent pool is deep and we know how to translate your organization’s needs into a clear job description – making the hiring process straightforward and efficient.

When filling such a crucial position in your C-Suite, partnering with the right recruiting team is second only to finding the best fit. At TZR, we guarantee we’ll find the right person for the job, every time.

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