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First Year as COO

As we approach the end of 2022, I want to reflect on my first year as Chief Operating Officer (COO) at RBW Strategy. And to do so, I must begin with a longer look back.
My first experience working with executive leaders was nearly 20 years ago, when I was a Planning & Development Associate at a community health center network. I reported to both the Assistant and Senior Vice Presidents of my department. They each had a distinct approach to setting priorities, communicating ideas, driving growth, optimizing performance, and balancing competing demands—all while working to build a strong team culture.
I synthesized these two “close-up” views of executive leadership with many other experiences over the years. At times, my early learnings were supported. At others, they were challenged. All of my experiences helped to form my professional identity as a COO.
My first year as COO has taught me that maximizing my value is not just about mastering the technical aspects of the work. Critical elements have to do with how I relate to others, to issues, and to myself. For example:
• How to stay anchored and generate fresh support for the team during very demanding or uncertain times.
• How to build and maintain professional friendships with colleagues, clients, partners, and peers in the sector.
• How to find a voice of tactful yet firm opposition when practices have the potential to take the firm off track from our mission, values, or strategic priorities.
• How to be as transparent as possible and apologize for my mistakes, not only to build trust but to acknowledge that I am a vulnerable human being in a leader’s shoes.
My first year as RBW’s COO has been about leveraging time-tested formulas for success while being adaptable enough to create new responses and build new bridges wherever needed. The road continually unfolds, so I am not certain I will ever “arrive.” But I’m looking forward to what I will learn next.
KJ Lucas Matos, MA
Chief Operating Officer
RBW Strategy, LLC
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