General Insights

Difference Between CEO and COO: Understanding Key Roles

Scott Williams
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There are many different leadership positions in the C-Suite, each with its own set of responsibilities and obligations. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the Chief Operating Officer (COO) are roles that sometimes cause misunderstandings. While both are essential to a company's success, their roles and responsibilities differ. Anyone hoping to enhance their career in the business world or anyone wanting to learn more about how a company operates should know the differences between these two roles. In this post, we will examine the duties and responsibilities of the CEO and COO in further detail and address some frequently asked issues concerning these positions.

Roles and Responsibilities

The most important difference between a CEO, a COO, and other high-performing employees is how they do their jobs.

CEO: The CEO is usually the highest-ranking executive in a company, and he or she is in charge of deciding the overall strategy and direction of the company. This entails establishing long-term objectives, choosing the company's course, and making choices that impact the entire organisation.

COO: On the other side, the COO is responsible for carrying out the CEO's strategy and ensuring the business's daily operations go smoothly. The COO is in charge of managing the company's operational divisions and ensuring they are operating properly and efficiently.

Decision-Making Authority

The power with which each CEO and COO makes decisions is a significant distinction between them.

CEO: The CEO is the face of the business and has the last word in all significant decisions. They are in charge of articulating the firm's vision and strategy to staff members, clients, and the general public and representing the organisation to stakeholders like shareholders and investors.

COO: Although the COO has considerable decision-making power, they must ultimately defer to the CEO when making critical choices that influence the organisation as a whole. The COO is in charge of putting the CEO's decisions into action and ensuring they are done well.

Skills and Qualifications

The CEO and COO also need very different skills and knowledge.

CEO: To be a good CEO, you need to think strategically, lead, and have strong interpersonal and communication skills. Additionally, they must be well-versed in accounting, marketing, and corporate management.

COO: Successful COOs have a lot of operational experience and know-how of all the different parts of a business working together. They should also have a track record of putting together successful teams, be great at managing people, and be able to figure out and solve complicated problems.

Career Path

A CEO's and COO's professional paths may take very different courses.

CEO: Many CEOs begin their careers in lower-level management before moving up the corporate ladder. Some people may have launched their businesses and have entrepreneurial expertise. CEOs often have years of experience in high leadership roles and a track record of success in both scenarios.

COO: COOs may have started their careers in a specific operational department, like finance or manufacturing, and worked up to senior leadership positions. They may also know much about business and have worked in several operational departments.


Finally, it should be noted that the CEO and COO are two crucial positions inside an organisation, each with its own unique functions and responsibilities. Both positions are important to the success of a company, but you need to know the differences between them to make a real contribution.


Who is the higher COO or CEO?

Typically, the CEO is placed above the COO in the corporate hierarchy. The CEO oversees the company's overarching strategy and vision, while the COO puts that strategy into practice and sees that regular business operations go without a hitch.

What is the difference between CEO and a COO?

The CEO, who is also the organization's leader, determines the organization's overall strategy and direction. On the other hand, the COO oversees the business's operational side and ensures that everything runs appropriately within the organisation.

What does a COO do day-to-day?

The day-to-day duties of a COO might change based on the size and nature of the firm. Still, they are often focused on managing the operational facets of the organisation, including administration, logistics, and manufacturing.

Does a COO own the company?

No, the COO is not the business's owner. As a high-level executive, they are very important to the company's success, but they do not own it.

Can a chairman fire a CEO?

It depends on the company's particular organisational structure and the power relationships between the chairman and the CEO. In some cases, the company's bylaws may protect the CEO or give him or her more power than the chairman. In other cases, the chairman may be able to fire the CEO.

Can 2 people be CEO?

Even though it doesn't happen often, a company could have more than one CEO. Co-CEO structures, where two people share the duties of the CEO position, may exist in some businesses.

Can a COO become CEO?

The answer is that a COO can become CEO. Many influential CEOs rose through the ranks and served as COOs before being promoted to the CEO post.

Is the CEO the owner?

No, not always. The CEO could be a shareholder or otherwise have a stake in the firm, making them an owner, or they could simply be a hired executive without ownership rights.

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