CEO vs. COO: What Is the Difference between These Key C-Suite Roles?

Inquisitive to know the difference between CEO and CCO positions at the C-Suite level? If yes, please check out this blog today!

CEO vs. COO

Every C-Suite executive has a unique skill set they will utilize in the organization. Two of the most important top executives are the CEO and COO. The CEO or the Chief Executive Officer is a top leader in the company who plans the vision, goals, standards, and processes of the company. Considered to be a top authority in the company, the CEO is responsible for the decision-making to a huge extent. The COO is the Chief Operating Officer is responsible for all operations and functions of the company. The responsibilities of a COO are for streamlining the operations and policies of the organization.

Who is the CEO?

The Chief Executive Officer or the CEO is the top C-suite executive who the board members choose to manage all the activities of the company. The CEO is responsible for all the strategies and processes. The CEO is the corporate leader who leads the company in terms of all major decisions, formulates long-term decisions, manages financial resources, business activities, and is the ultimate communicator between teams. The face of the organization, the CEO, is the one who needs to take responsibility for all the success or failure of the company.

The responsibilities of the CEO are-

  • Creating the code for the company culture
  • Charting the vision of the company
  • Choose what will strengthen the company
  • Implement decisions that will further the goals of the company
  • Be the face of the company in press events, interactions, conferences, and more
  • Present and optimize business goals and results
  • Manage the marketing, expansion, messaging, and product roadmaps

Who is the COO?

The Chief Operating Officer or the COO is a C-suite executive who handles and heads the operational and administrative affairs of the company. The COO is the right-hand man professional of the CEO who supports the company strategy with structured plans. The COO needs to motivate team members at different levels to improve the quality and efficiency of operations.

The COO has the following responsibilities-

  • Supervising all the internal operations
  • Manage and coordinate with stakeholders
  • Report all important aspects to the CEO
  • Analyze business metrics and strategies
  • Minimize risk and ensure departmental growth
  • Monitor various expenditures and resources to ensure budgets are met

Differences between CEO and COO

The major difference between a CEO and a COO is in the hierarchy of the position. The COO takes care of all the administrative and operational aspects of the company and reports to the CEO. The CEO is the captain of the ship and is the topmost C-suite executive.

The CEO leads the workforce and handles all the resources, while the COO is the second in command. The CEO handles the company’s management in all corporate decisions and enterprise meetings.

The COO handles the profits, losses, allocation of tasks, customer satisfaction, and ensures efficiency. The CEO handles the value appropriation of the company, manages revenue, stock price, market capitalization, and more.

The COO handles all the company’s internal affairs and is appointed when there is a complex process. The CEO is the bridge between the public and the company. The COO is more of a bridge between the company members and the CEO.

The CEO is answerable to the board members who have elected him to the position. For a COO, he is answerable to the CEO and team managers.

The Average salary of CEO and COO

Here are the average salaries of the CEO and COO in different countries.

Country NameCEO SalaryCOO Salary
USA$786256$458921
United Kingdom£98,012£83798
AustraliaAU$932,211AU$160486
India₹2902892₹2802330

Common Skills for both the CEO and COO

Since both CEO and COO roles are the main elements of the C-Suite, they require the same set of skills and attributes. Some of them are-

  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills
  • Disaster management
  • Self-motivation
  • Time-management skills
  • Decision making
  • Management skills

The key attributes for both the CEO and COO include-17

  • Reliability
  • Teamwork
  • Adaptability
  • Foresight
  • Tenacity
  • Focus
  • Attentiveness

Key Comparison Chart

BasisCEOCOO
CommandThe CEO is the first in command and is responsible for the company management.The COO is the right-hand man of the CEO and handles all operations of the company.
Job responsibilitiesLong-term planning and demarcation of policies are some of the responsibilities of the CEO.The COO handles the operations, policies, and procedures of the company.
VisionThe CEO creates the vision plan and map of the company.The COO executes the vision of the CEO in terms of operations.
FocusTo increase and enhance the value and growth of the company. The CEO ensures that the company is seeing steady profits and shareholders are happy. In the case of a start-up, the CEO’s goal is to bring business and revenue to the company.The COO handles all the profits, customer satisfaction, team management, strategy, and internal affairs of the organization.
ReportingThe CEO reports to the board of directorsThe COO reports to the CEO
OwnershipThe CEO is most likely to be a major shareholder or business owner.The COO might not be a major shareholder in the company
NecessityThe CEO is a necessary position in a company. In small, upcoming companies the CEO also takes on other responsibilities.The COO is usually not the first hire at an organization. They are hired when the company grows and needs a professional with the expertise to handle it.

Bottom Line

The CEO and COO both look to manage and help the growth of the company. The CEO is the top-ranking official in an organization, while the COO handles the internal operations. While delivery of service is the main goal for a COO, the CEO takes care of the organizational growth. As companies grow, the level of complexity in departments increases. This calls for an expert like the COO to fill the gaps in the company. The COO implements processes that fit with the altering and changing needs of the company. Both roles are important to reaching the long-term goals and vision of the company.

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