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Suddenly the COO is Missing - a Dangerous Leadership Vacuum

Suddenly the COO is Missing - a Dangerous Leadership Vacuum

17.01.2023 Blog

A temporarily vacant position in management is rightly avoided whenever possible. It becomes particularly dangerous when the completion of a major project is on the brink. Read here how the use of an interim manager made the decisive difference.

Suddenly the COO is Missing - a Dangerous Leadership Vacuum

A vacancy in management and a major project in adverse circumstances

The longstanding COO of a company active worldwide in the packaging industry had left the group and the seamless succession plan had failed. At the same time, the expansion of the factory in Brazil had to contend with adverse circumstances: high import duties, supply chain problems, staff shortages due to Covid and strikes by the customs authorities made completion difficult. This led to great doubts, right up to group management, as to whether the set goals (complete factory expansion on schedule and group-wide increase in efficiency) could be achieved. 


Authentic leadership behavior and clear communication as key motivators

The use of an interim manager provided by Top Fifty made possible what some had almost given up: the major project of expanding the factory could be continued as planned and completed on schedule at the expected costs. The interim manager succeeded at motivating the team again through clear communication and authentic leadership behavior. In the weekly video calls, he focused on the progress that had already been made and the progress to be achieved in the near future, provided targeted information and was committed to making quick decisions. The disciplined agenda of the calls was extremely helpful. At the same time, he pushed ahead with other pending projects to increase productivity in the company and was even able to complete some of them.

Thanks to the professional bridging of the vacancy, the group management was able to concentrate on the search for a successor for the position of COO. The new COO was then introduced in an orderly and structured manner. 


Focusing on the essentials as a success factor

The focus on the complete implementation of the measures and investments that had been started was decisive for the success of the assignment. In this way, the scarce human resources could be used properly. The monthly steering committee to inform the group management about the progress of the project in Brazil has contributed a lot to open and timely communication. This in turn enabled collegial cooperation and a good atmosphere in the team, which even an order backlog of more than eight months and massive problems with raw material deliveries could not cloud. 


A lack of successor planning does not have to mean the end of major projects. On the contrary: Interim managers are an excellent means of bridging a vacancy. They devote themselves to upcoming or open projects with all their experience and enable management to fill the vacancy in peace.

We quickly and easily provide you with experts who are familiar with your industry and have proven experience as project managers.

Contact us at or +41 (0)41 412 02 02. 



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