Biz Doc: It Has Come To This

Who’s Your #2?

May 2014

Leaders need a #2 they can trust personally and trust to deliver.  Who is yours?

In the annals of corporate history there are numerous examples of teams that successfully led some of America’s best companies.   Successful partnerships include Andy Grove and Craig Barrett of Intel.



CEO Leadership has it’s own wing in the library – but what of the #2 executives upon whom these CEOs relied heavily?  What made them so good for the CEO and so great for the company?  Barrett was a manufacturing innovator hailed for the brilliant and successful “copy exactly” manufacturing strategy he drove during his tenure as COO.  Grove was an engineer at heart with a strong focus on innovation.  He was famous for saying, “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”  Complimentary personalities and a diversity of skills made Barrett and Grove a powerful and successful duo.

Who is your #2 and why is he/she the best person for that role?  If you came to be CEO out of the development ranks, perhaps a COO driving sales and marketing is your best choice.  Perhaps it is the opposite.  In any case, when it is time to select a #2, I suggest you run three processes:

a) Objective analysis of executive skills needed by the company now and over the next 3 years.

b) Similarly objective analysis of your own strengths and WHY those skills build value and WHY you, in the role of CEO, should be driving those areas at this time in the company’s life.

c) Personality analysis of yourself and those personalities with whom you worked most effectively.

If you are truly objective, a+b+c should form a very clear picture of the COO that will help drive the company forward.  If you are honest in running the process, you’ll likely succeed in finding a #2 with whom you and your company can flourish.