The # 2 -or- How to Fill a Leadership Vacuum

The # 2 tends to be defined in relation to the specific CEO or Chairman. The role can vary dramatically, depending on the style and needs of the President.

Adapted from the definition of a COO on Wikipedia, 2016

Regardless of whether you are a company’s founder or a chairman: If you have to keep up as a top manager and do a lot of outward facing work yourselves, there may come the day when you need a # 2 necessary to run your daily business.

But how do you find that perfect partner, and what are you actually looking for ?

I mean, shouldn’t you be afraid of

  • incompetent people who want to take your job ?
  • people obsessed with being leaders (which is inherently inauthentic) ?

Where are those high-impact implementers, who

  • don't need much supervision,
  • run the company day to day,
  • focus on operating the company and growing it,
  • are happy solving problems and getting things done,
  • love creating systems and solving problems as the company grows very fast,
  • and are most driven of any type to learn new concepts ?

Actually it isn’t as difficult to find them as you may think. If you need someone cultivating and mapping out where your current situation will lead, it’s all about going back to the roots. Here are our recommendations on

How to Find Your Perfect # 2

  1. Get away from any pre-selection by an automated system using buzz-words that everyone will catch up on, and get your hands dirty.
    Be clear about demands and expectations, and read resumes & cover letters, also between the lines.

  2. Disregard attitudes and look for characteristics.
    According to, those one reflect an exceptional capability to predict [and shape] the future.

  3. Have a proper conversation and listen to your inner voice. Go for your gut feeling.
    According to the research findings of Gerd Gigerenzer and his team your intuition will guide you surprisingly well.

  4. Look for synergies. For example
  • if you are visionary, you may look for someone who sees reality (and takes action on that)
  • if you are a strategist, you may look for an implementer
  • if you are a specialist, you may look for a generalist
  • if you have a patriarchal way of working, you may look for a facilitator
  • if you have a business developers mindset, you may look for someone with an operations mindset
  • if you are an extrovert, you may look for an introvert...

Because no matter how much we can automate already - bottom-line any business is people business, and if you want your search to work out well, stay the person you are as well. It may seem less-efficient upfront, however, once you found and are behind that # 2, the buy-in and the execution will happen quickly.

...and last but not least :

Consider to lead online.
“The emergence of the internet – with it’s openness and non-hierarchical nature - coincides nicely with our need to [...] lead from the middle by people who are authentic.” (Penelope Trunk @

Happy Progress !

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