Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

5 Traits to Search for When Hiring a COO for Your Startup

If you want to continue growing your startup and have a valuable business, it is important to know the next steps required to ensure the continued success of your startup.

Randy H Nelson, author of The Second Decision, points out that one of the key things you need in your business is a solid right hand leader to help implement structure and processes within your startup.

When you’ve reached this step in your startup, you need to think about hiring a COO to help in the day to day leadership responsibilities while you stay focused on the strategic side of the business.

Hiring your COO is a big step and it is important that you know what to look for in that individual.   There are 5 key traits to search for in your COO:

1. Leadership Qualities

Of course, the first thing you need to look for in your COO is strong leadership skills.  Look for individuals who have prior leadership experience.  This experience doesn’t necessarily have to be within your industry.

When you are interviewing candidates, ask creative interview questions about their past leadership experiences and how they would handle certain situations that may arise within your startup.

2. Patience with a Sense of Urgency

Your startup likely needs to operate quickly in the business if you want to stay ahead of bigger competition.  That means that your COO must be able to quickly make the right decisions when it comes to day to day operations.

However, at the same time you need someone who is patient and understands that it takes time and effort to grow a successful company.  Having a leader on your team who is patient but also operates with a sense of urgency is detrimental to your startup’s success.

3. Ability to Hold the Team Accountable

A key responsibility of your COO will be holding your team accountable and ensuring that the day to day operations are most effective.

If you want a COO who can hold your team accountable, you will need someone that your team will look up to as a leader.

Some of the top ways that leaders earn the respect of their team is by understanding each part of the business.  You will want a COO who is not afraid to get his hands dirty and be involved in many of the day to day tasks that your team is responsible for.  When your team knows that their leader is just as knowledgeable in each part of the business, they will have a new found respect for him.

By having a hands-on leader, it will be easier for him to keep the team on track and know exactly how the business should operate.

4. Ability to Implement New Processes and Procedures

Your COO will be someone who has previous leadership experience in small companies.  When you have an individual who has been involved in developing and implementing processes in similar environments to your startup, they should be able to do the same in your startup.

This is a necessary skill in order to further grow and develop your startup.

5. Understands and Believes in your Vision

Perhaps one of the most important things to look for in your COO is the understanding and belief in your vision.

Having a right hand person on your leadership team who stands behind you and your vision is instrumental to your startup’s success.  Your COO will need to be working with you in the same direction, towards the same goals.

When searching for the right COO for your startup, pay attention to the individual’s passion, desires, and ultimate goals.  If these fall in line with yours, then you are on the right track.

What are some other things that you are looking for in hiring your COO?


Julia Weeks

Julia is a skilled Recruiter with over 8 years of experience in sourcing, interviewing, and hiring within many industries globally. She works closely with hiring managers and job seekers to understand needs and desires, while offering guidance and ensuring the right fit. When not recruiting or writing, Julia enjoys spending time outside cycling, taking her dog for walks, or honing her sailing skills.

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