We came across this wonderful Harvard Business Review article entitled “Second in Command: The Misunderstood Role of the Chief Operating Officer” which is a fantastic primer on what a COO is, why you need one, and what flavor of COO your business needs. Understanding what makes the role of COO vitally important to a company’s success, and what really makes an effective Chief Operating Officer is crucial to the ultimate financial success and growth of every business. This will make or break your business.

If you looked at the organizational charts of 20 different companies with COOs, more than likely you’d find that none of them had the exact same functions reporting up to them. In some companies, the COO has all business units reporting into them. Others have direct lines to operational functions only. Still others oversee Sales and Finance.

In their article, Nathan Bennett and Stephen A Miles found seven archetype COOs that are largely defined by their relationship to the CEO.

1. The Executor is charged with helping the CEO and his/her leadership team execute the company’s strategy in today’s complex business environments.

2. The Change Agent’s directive is to implement a major change, restructuring or strategic shift.

3. The Mentor is often brought in to help groom and guide a young CEO or a founder who’s company has grown beyond his/her experience.

4. The Other Half is, just that, a complement to the skill set and experience of the CEO. Balance makes better teams.

5. The Partner is paired with a CEO because many people work better as a duo than a solo. The COO becomes the right hand man/woman and co-leads the company.

6. The Heir Apparent is given the COO role to groom him/her, or as a stepping stone to the CEO role. Success as a COO can set the stage for a smooth transition.

7. The MVP is a type of COO role where the most valuable player in the company, one the business cannot afford to lose, is promoted into the second-in-command role.

If you are a CEO, consider what kind of COO is best for your business? What are you trying to accomplish? What are your personal strengths and weaknesses and how can a right hand man/woman fill the gaps? We here at COO on Demand would love to help you answer these questions!