Key Skills and Attributes a COO Needs


The role of a Chief Operating Officer (COO) is a complex and demanding one, requiring a unique set of skills and attributes. In many organizations, the COO serves as the second-in-command to the CEO, responsible for executing the company’s strategy, managing day-to-day operations, and driving growth. To succeed in this position, a COO must possess a diverse range of skills and traits that allow them to excel in both strategic and tactical roles. In this article, we’ll explore some of the key skills and attributes that are essential for a COO’s success.

Leadership Skills

One of the most important skills that a COO must possess is strong leadership abilities. This means being able to inspire and motivate teams to perform at their best, and being willing to make tough decisions when needed. A successful COO must also be able to communicate effectively with team members at all levels of the organization, from the C-suite to entry-level staff.

For example, consider Bob Wynalek, the COO of DiscGenics, a privately held medical research company. In his role, Wynalek oversees the company’s operations and ensures that it is on track to achieve its goals. He must lead his team through various challenges, from managing research projects to ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and so much more. He must be an effective communicator, clearly sharing the company’s vision and goals with his team and inspiring them to work towards these objectives.

Strategic Thinking

A COO must be able to think strategically and develop plans to achieve the company’s goals. This means analyzing market trends, identifying areas for growth, and making decisions that are in the best interest of the company. A COO must also be able to develop and implement operational strategies that align with the company’s overall vision and goals. Since the COO is the person overseeing day to day operations, it will be vital that they make strategic decisions on the spot because his employees will need guidance on where to go next. 

Financial Understanding

A COO must have a solid understanding of financial concepts and be able to manage budgets and resources effectively. This means developing and implementing financial plans, monitoring expenses, and making data-driven decisions that maximize the company’s financial performance.

Operational Excellence

A COO must be able to manage day-to-day operations effectively, ensuring that the company is operating efficiently and that its resources are being used effectively. This means identifying opportunities for process improvement, implementing best practices, and managing risk effectively. He needs to be mentally and focused all the time and needs to maintain the highest standards for his workers. 

Collaboration Skills

A successful COO must be able to collaborate effectively with other members of the executive team, as well as with employees at all levels of the organization. This means building strong relationships with team members, developing trust, and working together to achieve the company’s goals.


In conclusion, the role of a COO is multifaceted and demanding, requiring a diverse range of skills and attributes. A successful COO must possess strong leadership abilities, strategic thinking skills, financial understanding, operational excellence, and collaboration skills to achieve success. As we saw in the example of Bob Wynalek, COO of DiscGenics,  these skills are essential to drive the company’s growth and success. If you aspire to become a COO, developing these skills and attributes should be a top priority, as they will be critical to your success in this challenging and rewarding role.