A COO role can be one of the trickiest positions to hire given the variety of leadership competencies needed. Yet, it is of the utmost importance to find the right COO (or second in command by any other title) for your unique situation.

Even before you launch the search, it’s particularly important to nail down the success outcomes of the role for the first 12 months and how they are going to be measured. My favorite exercise to define success outcome is to put yourself 12 months into the future: Imagine for a moment the person you’ve hired has absolutely crushed it. What has the company accomplished? What are the key three to five measurable results? And then work backward to the present day.

Almost every company’s situation and ideal COO is different. The most important success outcomes can vary depending on what the most important objectives are for the company at the time their new COO onboards. Even still, the five characteristics of high-performing COOs are consistent among our firm’s dozens of successful recent searches.