10 Traits of Unsung Workplace Heroes

Being a part of the C-Suite is the dream of every employee. But what are the traits of people in these top positions?

It is known that many responsibilities fall into your hand once you get to the top, yet many people still have dreams to one day be part of the C-Suite. A position that is often overlooked is the Chief Operating Officer’s role.

An article in the Harvard Business Review stated the role of Chief Operating Officer was perhaps the most misunderstood position in a company, given the complexity and diversity of responsibilities. Standards do not exist, and the role differentiates across industries. And often times, the COO is the unsung hero – one who expects to be blamed, yet misses out on the praise.

Back in 2000, 48% of Fortune 500 companies had a COO. Most recently in 2014, only 36% of companies fill that role, marking a steady decline in the position. With this in mind, I wanted to find out just what a COO can offer to a company.

I interviewed Chirag Sagar, the COO of Destination Luxury, where he runs their day-to-day operations, business development, marketing, communications and HR. Prior to joining the luxury site, Chirag spearheaded operations as Managing Director for the White House-recognized non-profit, Moneythink, where he doubled the number of high school students impacted by the program.

These are Chirag’s top 10 traits in a Chief Operating Officer’s position, the unsung hero of many companies:

1. They pay extreme attention to detail

Luxury brands are profound in their intricacies. Brands like Bentley and Louis Vuitton pay close attention to every detail.

Whenever Destination Luxury curates an event or creates a feature film for their partnered luxury brands, Chirag is the one who must pay the closest attention to detail, ensuring the brands are happy with how they are presented.

The job requires seamless inspection and foolproof quality control.

2. They don’t lose sight of the company vision

The day-to-day objectives are important, and serve as stepping stones for the larger vision. But how do you merge daily and long term objectives?

You reverse engineer the entire process. You turn:

  • The long-term vision into yearly goals with key performance indicators
  • Yearly goals into monthly goals with key deadlines
  • Monthly goals into weekly objectives
  • Weekly objectives into daily executable action items

3. They learn more from success than at failing

But when you do fail, learn from it, as Chirag has through his experiences.

Ask yourself, what were alternative options and did you make the best decision at the time?

Document exactly what happened and understand why you failed. Share this with your team. Accept responsibility.

Even if your team was responsible for the mistake, it’s your fault as the leader for not steering the ship accordingly. Most importantly, forgive everyone involved and move on.

4. They hire the best talent

When selecting hires, ask yourself these 5 questions:

  • Would I feel comfortable sitting next to this person on a 12 hour flight?
  • Could I talk to this person for hours without feeling annoyed or uncomfortable?
  • Does this person inspire me?
  • Am I confident that the person will be invaluable to help me accomplish my company’s vision?
  • Does their character and personality match the team culture we’ve fostered?

The right skill set and the right personality are the key to success – for you, your company, and your employees.

5. They are loyal to the company, not the individual

This is business – not personal.

In a growing business, the COO’s job is to automate, delegate and eliminate as necessary.

Remember to focus on the vision, not egos (including your own), no matter how far up the food chain they go.

6. They always set Meeting agendas

Time is the one resource you’ll never get back. Before any meeting, set a clear agenda. Stay on time. Post meeting, define next steps with deadlines. Hold everyone accountable, including yourself. Otherwise, without an agenda, everyone is just wasting their time.

7. They take care of themselves

When you eat well, you are chemically and biologically feeding your mind and body with the essential nutrients you need to think and act coherently.

Sleeping sufficiently, keeping a positive mindset, working out, reading and allowing yourself to rejuvenate… All these things directly impact the quality of your work. Life is not a sprint, but rather a marathon. Live a balanced life by feeding your soul, emotions, mental being and body through healthy choices.

8. They are chameleons

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin.

The best COOs are able to adapt quickly to the needs of the company. The work and needs constantly evolve, and you need to evolve with it.

As the great Bruce Lee once said, “be like water.”

9. They make data-informed decisions

Each decision needs to have data backing it to determine if an idea is feasible. When Destination Luxury realized that events could become a cornerstone piece of the business, they created their events division. Through interaction, community and retention, they doubled their newsletter base, increased their revenue and built a strong community of loyal supporters both online and offline.

10. They grow through open and honest communication

Develop strong relationships with the CEO and your Board, build trust with the workforce, and positive interactions with customers and consumers. Communication is the key to build a strong brand and forge a company to last.

Have you been part of the C-Suite of your company? What have you learned in your role? I’d love to learn more. Comment below!

Originally posted on Inc.

Leonard Kim is Managing Partner at InfluenceTree. At InfluenceTree, Leonard and his team teach you how to build your (personal or business) brand, get featured in publications and growth hack your social media following.

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