Developing a Strong Second in Command - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Developing a Strong Second in Command

To scale your business and improve your use of time as owner, your business needs a strong leadership team, and ideally for many owners: a second in command (2IC)

A second in command can be an Operations Manager, a General Manager, a COO, or a Chief of Staff. 

There are different reasons to employ a 2IC. Here are four common roles a 2IC can play in your business.

1. Implementor: The main reason for having a 2IC is to help keep the operations streamlined, successful and operating within budget. The “implementor” is a tactical position with equal parts organizer, process builder and coach. 

2. Complementor: The main role of this person is to focus on areas of the business that the owner does not have the time nor the skills for. This role can be combined with the implementor.

3. Successor: This is a transitory role where the 2IC is studying under the owner to take over their role of CEO of the business, and sometimes the intention is for the successor to buy the business.

4. Mentor: Sometimes an owner will hire an older, semi-retired person to act as both Chief Operating Officer and mentor to the owner. It’s an odd couple, but it helps the younger owner gain confidence and skills. I know of a second-generation landscape business owner who bought out his father and used this model to help him gain his sea legs.

And here is a fifth, less common role: 

5. CEO.  Some owners do not want to be the CEO, and they hire someone to run and grow the business, so they can focus on the key aspects they enjoy most. My good friend and client George Tucker, owner of LanDesign in Missouri, did just this, and his business has been growing faster and stronger than ever since he brought on a full-time CEO.

To learn more about hiring, developing and working with a second in command, come to the author Jeffrey Scott’s talk: “Develop a 2nd in Command” at LANDSCAPES on Wednesday, Oct. 20 (Power Session at 10 a.m.), to learn special tools to get an owner and 2IC on the same page.