How COOs Can Save CEOs From Themselves

May 13, 2021 | 2 comments

Even leaders need a little help from their COOs sometimes, especially CEOs. The reality is, entrepreneurs and CEOs are often “Quick Starters.” This means that when CEOs have an idea, they launch right into wanting to do it immediately. The return from conferences or events with multiple great ideas or new systems that “will only take a few minutes to do.”

That rarely turns out to be true. As a COO, you can save CEOs from the wasted time and resources of their overexcitement. This blog is here to help you learn how.

Make Them Plan

There is a great mantra for achieving goals and creating new systems. It goes, “Plan, brief, execute, debrief.” Rarely does a CEO who is overexcited by a new idea ever want to follow it. They just want to get straight into the action. Instead, they have to get dragged kicking and screaming into planning meetings.

An excited CEO would rather quickly delegate/abdicate their “great ideas” and get things started quickly by passing them off to their bewildered teams before anyone has much of a clue what’s going on.

As COO, you’re one of the only people that can make them pause and think. Make the plan. You can knock some sense into them.

Convince Them to Wait

It’s not that a CEO’s new ideas won’t work, it’s that maybe now isn’t the right time. These new systems and ideas usually aren’t urgently needed and can wait a quarter or two until a proper plan is in place.

This is where your role as COO really comes into play. You are the keeper of all ideas. You need to keep track of those ideas, think about them, and make sure they are necessary for the company before anyone goes and implements them.

Be the Voice of Reason

The fact is CEOs can get angry if their teams don’t run with their ideas as quickly as they want them to. These entrepreneurs often feel an urgency to start the idea right now.

As COO, it’s important to understand their mindset and be able to manage your CEO’s expectations so that they do not get frustrated. You also have to help them understand that their ideas need time to perfect before putting them into action. Your job is to reason with them. Make them understand the importance of taking your time.

Choosing and Keeping Track of Ideas

The reality is, they just need a system to keep track of their ideas. If they have a simple system in place to know their ideas won’t get lost, they’re more okay with starting them when the time is right.

Every quarter, the team can vote on which ideas to start, which plans to keep on the list, and which ones to finally throw out. As long as the ideas are kept somewhere safe to ease your CEO’s mind.

Remember, you’re the COO. You have to save the CEO from themself by giving them a place to store their ideas. The entire team relies on you to keep the CEO from getting overly excited by new ideas.

How do you keep track of ideas? Do you have any systems in place that help with picking and choosing which ones to implement? Let us know in the comments below!

If you have questions or would like more information, I’d be happy to help. Please send an email, and my team will get in touch with you!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2017 and has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


  1. Darcy

    Interesting. Very interesting. Although I’m wondering…

    I used to be like that: New ideas every day and ready to start on each one of them, today.

    However, I’m not sure it’s because I was a CEO. I think it’s because I was younger and an ‘entrepreneur’.

    I’ve seen plenty of CEOs that come with a total of 0 new ideas per year… They tend to be older people AND in more conservative industries.

    Nowadays, I’m older. Yet, I still have dozen of new ideas every day – really. That’s the ‘entrepreneur personality’. But I am more interested in getting ONE great idea to success, than producing a long list of projects who will die on the runway. My list of “projects started but never finished” is full already 😉

    So… Very important topic. Yet, I’m not sure it’s a CEO / COO thing. It may be more a function of ‘entrepreneur personality’ + “age”. Maybe?

    • Cameron Herold

      Great points – I agree. Not ALL CEOs have a million ideas, it’s the entrepreneurial personality for sure! Your point about one idea to success is great (too bad not all CEOs are like that), it’s usually the COO who takes all the ideas, chooses the one that’s best for the company and executes it. Perhaps you are a bit of both?


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Written By Cameron Herold

Written By Cameron Herold

Cameron Herold is known around the world as THE CEO WHISPERER. He is the mastermind behind hundreds of company's exponential growth. Cameron's built a dynamic consultancy: his current clients include a "Big 4" wireless carrier and a monarchy. What do his clients say they like most about him? He isn't a theory guy they like that Cameron speaks only from experience. He earned his reputation as the CEO Whisperer by guiding his clients to double their profit and double their revenue in just three years or less. Cameron is a top-rated international speaker and has been paid to speak in 26 countries. He is also the top-rated lecturer at EO/MIT's Entrepreneurial Masters Program and a powerful and effective speaker at Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer leadership events around the world.

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