Before you can define the best character traits and skills that make up a good Chief Operating Officer, it’s first necessary to define the job description. Because there is so much variation in job duties from one organization to another, there is also a large variation in the characteristics that make up the “perfect COO”. However, there are some key traits that are necessary for most COO positions, no matter what responsibilities ultimately end up on the job description.
Intelligence: A COO needs to be able to think clearly and quickly in a variety of situations. The COO will likely be leading the creation and implementation of new systems and procedures to enable an organization to operate more effectively. This takes a great deal of analytical thinking and creativity.
Interpersonal Skills: Very often the COO is responsible for supervising and leading staff. He or she may also work directly with upper management and executives as a peer. An effective COO is able to function smoothly with both diverse groups. This requires a high level of emotional intelligence and the ability to easily read people.
Teamwork: A good COO must be a team player, someone who can work in collaboration with a wide range of personality types. Leading change is often part of the COO job responsibilities. This requires the ability to see the overall big picture and the ability to pull the team together to work through change efficiently and effectively.
Trust: All the team-building in the world will not be effective if there is a lack of trust between a COO and staff. The COO must work to earn the trust of his or her employees and peers. Trust can be established through honesty, open communication, fairness, predictability, and the ability to admit mistakes and to correct them.
These common traits are necessary for any COO to ultimately be successful and effective, no matter what types of projects are initiated.