Are you behaving like a COO or a CEO? (and why you should care)

Essentially this boils down to whether you spend most of your time dealing with operational details or do you have your brain free to work on the strategic stuff?

Obviously you need someone in the company to be in charge of running all the operational stuff from keeping the computers up and running to managing communications and the team. However if you are leading the company, planning and delivering its growth etc then there are certain things you shouldn’t be bothering your head with.

One way to work out whether you have the balance of activities right is to look at your diary for the past month and add up all the time you spend on operational things and compare it to all the time you spend on leading and developing the company.

If you’re wondering which of the many things you do fits into these two categories here are a few pointers.

COO: Depending on the size of company (and therefore the number of people it takes to do these jobs) operational stuff is mostly management and includes:

  • managing communications in the team, sorting out weekly meetings
  • day to day client management
  • project management for live projects
  • doing the book-keeping
  • managing the IT stuff
  • looking after the website etc
  • admin, travel and meeting arrangements
  • delivery of training and workshops
  • event planning
  • marketing and communications planning and delivery

CEO activities should be mostly leadership and includes things like:

  • articulating the firms vision both to clients and to your staff
  • working out what the ethos and style of the company is (how do you want to treat your team, how do you want them to think of you and the company)
  • leading the strategy development and business planning
  • clarifying your position in the market … what business are you in and how does this compare to your competitors?
  • positioning the company and its products and services through key presentations, talks and events
  • analysing the financial information and working out whether you’re achieving your goals or not (and thus working out what to do differently)
  • strategic client development meetings

In a way the greatest risk is not necessarily that you have the balance wrong (though this is definitely worth sorting out) but that you try to cover all the bases and run out of steam when really you should be freeing yourself up to concentrate on the big stuff as this is how you’ll grow the company. This works for businesses of all sizes right down to one person operations – we know of at least one consultant whose turnover grew between 30-40% as a result of hiring a PA to manage their diary and travel … simply freeing up this time and moving beyond a boom and bust of being too busy on one project to go looking for the next.

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