Breaking down the CEO Lieutenant
In my last article I asked if your company needed a Chief ‘Getting Sh*t Done’ Officer, a COO for the 21st Century. Now it’s time to start breaking down each of the components of that role; CEO Lieutenant, Culture Keeper, Employee Experience Owner, Resilience Builder, and/or Silo Smasher. First up, CEO Lieutenant.
Strategist & Communicator
As with many traditional COOs, this part of the role ensures the company Vision, Mission, and Cultural Values are current, clear, understandable, and well communicated internally while ensuring there is a strategy and accountability mechanisms established so the entire organization can move with common purpose toward the vision.
What gets measured gets done. Establishing clear objectives/goals/KPIs, and then having mechanisms to assess and provide feedback is not only important at an individual level it’s also critical at a macro level. This can be achieved by keeping a clear focus (3-5 goals max) and then giving regular feedback on how the organization is doing and why. One example would be to have a quarterly grade card prepared at an executive quarterly offsite meeting and then presented at company All Hands meeting.
Another approach to consider is to measure employee engagement. Employee engagement is critical to innovation and performance; and continuity of culture has a real impact on the quality customers experience from your brand. In my Engagement Quotient; effectiveness, efficiency, and retention are all taken into account and the Culture Meter measures the Engagement Quotient over time and across departments or functional areas. The higher the Engagement Quotient the better and the lower the Standard Deviation across groups, the more consistent the culture is across the organization.
Speaking Truth-to-Power; Bubble Buster
This person advises the CEO and is the one that will speak truth-to-power; not allowing "good news" filters to create a bubble around the CEO. Harvard Business Review March-April 2017 issue has an article titled “Bursting the CEO Bubble;” it warns of the insulation that can occur for CEOs in both large and small organizations.
As the Bubble Buster, the COO can become an expert at asking questions that will get to the heart of the matter, building trust at all levels. Rather than being a barrier to the CEO this helps to accelerate information flow. One of the biggest roles here is to be an example, showing others that telling the CEO what they need to know, even if it’s not what they want to hear is the right thing to do.
Diversity & Inclusion Champion
Diversity of thinking is critical for innovation, the lifeblood of the 21st century, so ensuring that diversity and inclusion from top to bottom, left to right of the organization is enabled and celebrated becomes a critical function of this role.
No, this is not the job of HR! The C-suite, executive team, are 100% responsible for making diversity and inclusion happen.
Yes, diversity and inclusion are different things and need to be understood that way. Diversity is about getting people with both inherent and acquired differences into the team so you have the best chance of getting diversity of thought. Inclusion is about operationalizing behavior that creates a common language, understands, appreciates, and celebrates difference. It’s what helps people to become conscious of what they bring to the table and how to leverage their fellow employees’ complementary skills. It’s what keeps people, that are “different,” engaged and staying with your company.