Who’s Your 2nd In Command?

By Greg Niemi . April 17, 2013

Great leaders commonly have an extremely strong 2nd in command – someone who’s got their back along with the best interests of the company in mind.

I have observed and helped hundreds, if not thousands, of companies over my career.  I have seen many successes and failures too.  A common denominator of successful companies is their second in command.  The 2nd in command stands out and easily found in large or small companies, closely-held or publicly traded as well as in non-profits and for profit organizations.

A strong 2nd in command helps make the leader be a much better leader.  The second in command is a confidante and your most trusted counterpart.  The second shares the same passion for the mission, is committed to [your] success, has an undying duty of loyalty (almost unconditionally) plus can be trusted with the company jewels.  They can boost you up when you are down.

The second compliments the leader.  Often possesses contrasting leadership traits – strengths that contrast with and can make up for a leader’s weakness.  I have seen amiable leaders with assertive seconds.  I have seen innovative leaders with task driven seconds (who execute the vision).  I have seen absentee leaders supported by deep in the trenches seconds.

Plus I’ve seen so many other combinations of dynamic duos.  I am not talking about good cop, bad cop; instead I am talking about two professionals who put their backs together and take on the business world.  

Let me be clear a strong second in command is also very different than merely a business partner or a family partner.  Fact is, most partnerships fail and most family businesses flounder over the long term.  I am not saying all fail or struggle but most do and this may be a good topic for a future blog.

To be clear the point being made is that great leaders of most great companies have a great second in command. 

Greg Niemi and Marla Coffin

Marla & Me

I have been fortunate to have many strong seconds in my career.  The strongest second I have ever had to this point in my life is a talented lady by the name of Marla who now resides in Melbourne, AUS.  I am forever grateful to Marla for the success I was able to enjoy.  I, myself, have also been the strong second to others along my career path to help others accomplish their great success.

Whether you are the first or second is equally rewarding.   Every leader needs, and deserves, a strong lieutenant who is highly qualified and talented to do their work.  A second cannot be just a figurehead.  They have to be a high performer in order to enable the leader to their job well.   A strong second also needs to be highly respected by others inside and out. 

You cannot afford not to have a strong second.  The success of your business depends upon it.  So does your sanity and stress level.

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