Second in Command: The Misunderstood Role of the Chief Operating Officer

8 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2014

See all articles by Nathan Bennett

Nathan Bennett

Georgia Institute of Technology - Organizational Behavior Area; J. Mack Robinson College of Business

Stephen Miles

Heidrick & Struggles

Date Written: May 06, 2006

Abstract

Asking the question,"What makes a great COO?" is akin to asking "What makes a great candidate for U.S. vice president?" It all depends on the first name on the ticket -- the CEO. New research sheds light on this most contingent, and most mysterious, of C-suite jobs. After in-depth conversations with dozens of executives who have held the position and with CEOs who have worked with COOs, the authors have concluded that different views of the COO role arise from the different motives behind creating the position in the first place. There are seven basic reasons why companies decide to hire a COO: to implement the CEO's strategy; to lead a particular initiative, such as a turnaround; to mentor a young, inexperienced CEO; to complement the strengths or make up for the weaknesses of the CEO; to provide a partner to the CEO; to test out a possible successor; or to stave off the defection of a highly valuable executive, particularly to a rival.

Suggested Citation

Bennett, Nathan and Miles, Stephen, Second in Command: The Misunderstood Role of the Chief Operating Officer (May 06, 2006). Harvard Business Review, Vol. 84, No. 5, 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2394365

Nathan Bennett (Contact Author)

Georgia Institute of Technology - Organizational Behavior Area ( email )

800 West Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States

J. Mack Robinson College of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 4050
Atlanta, GA 30303-3083
United States

HOME PAGE: http://nate-bennett.com

Stephen Miles

Heidrick & Struggles ( email )

Chicago, IL 60606
United States

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