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13 qualities that make for a great COO

5 min read


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Q. What is one quality of a great COO?

1. OCD-level task management

The world is full of terrible task managers. Task management accountability comes from above. If an entry-level employee forgets a task, his manager catches it. If management forgets, the next person does and so on. But the COO is the last line of defense. Companies can crumble if one wrong task gets past the COO. Would you bet your company on your COO never forgetting a task? You just might be. — Anthony Johnson, American Injury Attorney Group

2. Obsessive organization

Tracking projects, tasks, team launches and so much more requires incredible organization skills. Without it, the hard work of your team can easily be lost in the shuffle. In online businesses especially, trying to keep track of digital files, software, logins and virtual check-ins makes organization even more important. — Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

3. Vision-driven

Your COO should share the same vision. If you don’t, this will really hurt your business. This is the person who is going to be operating your business while you’re not there. This person must share the same goals and long-term vision as all the founding team. — Peter Daisyme, Hosting

4. Great communication skills

A COO must have a very high level of communication skills that span all levels of management, as well as the hard-working people moving the business forward. Almost like a translator in order for operations to run smoothly day to day, the COO must understand all the aspects of the business and be able to communicate them to the CEO clearly. — Phil Chen, Systems Watch

5. Drive for perfection

As a COO, you need to never settle for “good enough.” Things can always be done better, more efficient and looked at from another angle. Don’t ever settle for a work around; strive for a solution. And always remember that what was perfect yesterday may need to be improved upon today. — Laura Land, EMPIRE Cell Phone Accessories

6. Love for new tools and systems

A great COO should love discovering and experimenting with new tools and systems to build greater efficiencies. Just because a project management tool or program was great in 2011 doesn’t mean it’s still the best out there. The best COOs are always looking to improve upon things that others might accept as “good enough” or standard practice. — Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

7. Data-driven

A great COO is data-driven and understands the key metrics to track and optimize for. The COO’s goal is to make the business more efficient, and by understanding the metrics that best model the efficiency of the company, they are able to objectively improve and streamline operations. — Randy Rayess, VenturePact

8. Respect

The COO has to make sure that the company is running smoothly. This means that often she/he will have to get buy-in throughout the organization. If my employees respect the COO, then work gets done. — Tamara Nall, The Leading Niche

9. Coaching skills

Our COO is highly effective because of his coaching skills. Rather than handing out tasks and setting deadlines, the COO is there to guide teammates to be more productive and strategic. Instead of, “You need to do this by this date,” the COO asks, “What do you think you need to do to help us reach our current weekly goal?” and then works with the person to set their individual roadmap. — Nanxi Liu, Enplug

10. Passion

A COO will always wear multiple hats and have numerous responsibilities. Some COOs go through the motions, look over daily operations and ensure successful completion of projects. Others possess a unique passion for what they do, and constantly go above and beyond. They have a vision for what can be done next and what can be done better. They are passionate and put heart into what they do. — Miles Jennings,

11. Ability to create efficient processes

I think the most important attribute of a COO is the ability to create effective and efficient processes. You can save a lot of money and achieve scalability for your businesses through the processes or operations. A good COO should be able to visualize these processes and implement them in an easy-to-understand way with their team members. — Andy Karuza, SpotSurvey

12. Practical visionary

Great COOs are practical visionaries — that is, he or she not only has a vision of success, but can also execute it on an operational level. This allows COOs to increase the efficiency of the business by understanding the technicalities of each process. — Faraz Khan, Khan Investments

13. Ability to jump in the trenches

In our company, talking to customers is a big part of how we operate. Among many other things, I believe it’s good for a COO to be hands-on when possible. Not only does it boost the team morale, but it shows the customers that our leadership isn’t afraid to jump in the trenches. — Ryan Shank, Mhelpdesk