March 30, 2016 by Chuck Christiansen

A great Chief Operating Officer can only be called great when the company succeeds. Here’s an initial list of attributes that are central to doing the job really well.

1. Leads by supporting. Along with the CEO, defines the overall vision – the “why & what” – and supports employees as they work through the “how.”

2. Emotionally stable. Works constructively with all types of people. Doesn’t   let personalities influence behavior / performance

3. Unflinching focus on results. Considers how short-term activities are in  concert with long-term objectives.

4. Relishes being hub of activity and doesn’t allow frequent interruptions to impact work quality.  Can assign priorities to work activities “on the fly.”

5. Thinks through possible ways to address a challenge. Employs creative problem solving. Knows whom to turn to for advice or input.

6. Possesses (un)common sense and good intuition for what’s achievable, and what’s not. Thinks about “how we can do this” instead of “why we can’t.”

7. Down-to-earth. Unassuming, comfortable with the spotlight shining elsewhere. Hasn’t forgotten where they’ve come from.

8. Great listener. Listens without prejudice; non-judgmental. Aware that not everyone expresses themselves clearly. Takes the time to really listen and ask questions before racing ahead to whatever conclusion they think everyone else should hear.

9. Free thinker, but understands the implications of information. What are we trying to achieve (the overall goal / results), what people are saying (the specifics), and how can we mix those together to produce a great outcome? Cares more about what makes it possible / likely to get great results vs. what we’ve always done.

10. Clear communicator. Ensures everybody understands the message exactly the same way and in the way it is intended to be understood.

11. Strong with numbers (analysis, metrics) and letters (writing).

12. Appropriate sense of urgency. Not everything is urgent, but some things are. Understands what needs to happen when to make customers (internal or external) comfortable / happy.

13. Great eye for detail. Can figure out “what’s wrong with this picture?”

14. Controlled ego. Sees all colleagues as possessing different skills, not better or worse.

15. Passionate for the idea of company success, and knows that personal success is an outcome of company success, not the other way around.

16. Advocates for employees at all levels.

17. Advocates for good ideas, regardless of where they come from.

18. Energetic / Outgoing / Proud / Fun – Enjoys what they do. Enjoys being part of something great.

19. A master integrator. Ties together all company functions.

20. Champions continuous improvement in everything, but doesn’t allow perfect to get in the way of progress.