In my journey to learn more about running a business I hear that you need two different mindsets to be successful. I’m told you need the CEO who is the visionary who will pull the organization forward. In support of that notion, you need a COO who will manage the process to assure accountability and results in day to day operations. Both are critical for long term sustainability, and you won’t often find both talents in a single individual. As organizations grow, the owner tries to do both; but often falls short on one side or the other until additional talent is brought in with the missing skills and capacity to fulfill the business strategy. As a child I always questioning everything. As an adult I continue to challenge these assumptions and simply ask why can this not be in a single person and still be successful?

I’m inspired to write this piece because yesterday I was asked by a colleague which aspect of the business I prefer and I found it a curious question. My years of training in Operations spawned my initial response of enjoying the execution of tasks to achieve results. Short term rests satisfies instant gratification as I’m sure all of you can relate to that. However, my soul is filled when I endeavor in the creative space and explore possibilities; often referred to as the “Shiny Penny Syndrome”. These two worlds of the CEO (visionary) and COO (execution) live in harmony as I build my business and the two roles fill all aspects of my purpose.

Is it possible to do both roles successfully? Does it require different types of personality types to excel in each to elevate the organization? As I build my business, I’ve enlisted the skills of resources that build capacity & capability in both my CEO and COO offices. So as I question these assumptions, I’ve come to the conclusion that successful businesses must survive with the CEO & COO embedded in one individual and here’s why…

The CEO says “why not” and the COO says “it’s possible if we do ‘X'”.

The CEO says “I see us changing the industry” and the COO says “it will cost you ‘Y’ and you need ‘Z’ resources”.

The CEO says “I want to create a better tomorrow” and the COO says “while you dream, let me go back to making money”.

If the CEO did not have the COO, dreams could not be created.

If the COO did not have the CEO, the business would become extinct over time.

When you combine both vision and operations into a single person, isn’t that what you want in a leader? In a business owner? Why not create a single mindset that evaluates both toward a common goal? If you have talent around you in both domains, you should be able to lead with the CEO & COO mindsets.

I bring this up not to delve into the details & challenges of why this is not possible. I bring this up to make you think about what you’ve been told and why it is not successful. I ask you to think about how it is possible to have both mindsets; and become the model leader of tomorrow. Isn’t vision & operations simply the characteristics of a Leader? And thus was created the CLO, Chief Leadership Officer.

If you’d like to engage in a conversation about this topic or to learn more about my consulting, leadership academy or the podcast, please connect with me at or my website at

-Deb Coviello