CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER: Understanding the Roles of a COO and Qualifications

Chief Operating Officer
Image Credit: COwen Partners

Within an organization, the chief operating officer (COO) is a senior executive and member of the C-suite who manages the company’s operational and administrative processes on a daily basis. We can also say that anyone who is the COO, is the second-in-command of that organization, and he or she reports directly to the CEO. The exact term used to address the chief operating officer as well as his daily responsibilities depends on the industry or company in question. Other names for this position include executive vice president of operations, chief operations officer, and operations director. It’s one job that requires various skills, experiences, and certifications too. What skills and qualifications do you need to become a chief operating officer, what is the salary of a COO, and what are the COO responsibilities 3 models all about? Let’s find out as well as discover the difference between CEO and the COO

Chief Operating Officer Job Description

The duties of a CEO and a manager are combined into one position known as the Chief Operating Officer (COO). Their main jobs are to come up with strategies, put those strategies into action, promote the company’s culture and vision, and keep an eye on daily operations to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Again, we can say that while the CEO is concerned with the big picture and long-term goals, the COO is responsible for day-to-day operations and getting things done in accordance with the company’s stated business model. They work hand in hand which explains why the CEO is responsible for coming up with strategies, while the COO is in charge of putting them into action. To carry out the CEO’s directive, the COO may direct human resources to increase the number of people working in quality control, and oversees manufacturing, R&D, and advertising in addition to other functions. In all, he is in charge of the daily operations of a business while also reporting to the CEO.


The primary responsibilities of the chief operating officer include the following;

  • Establish thorough objectives for performance and development.
  • Oversee the company’s day-to-day operations and the activities of the executives
  • Create and put into action business strategies, plans, and processes.
  • Take part in growth-oriented activities (investments, acquisitions, corporate alliances, etc.)
  • Create regulations that support the corporate culture and vision
  • Organize interactions with clients and suppliers
  • Use data and metrics analysis and interpretation to assess performance.
  • Report all significant issues to the CEO in writing.
  • Encourage employees to give their best effort and commitment

Requirements and Skills

Before becoming a COO, it is assumed that the individual in question already has years of experience working in the industry and other related fields. They typically oversee several divisions, and must therefore be creative problem solvers with good leadership abilities. In terms of education, COOs normally have at least a bachelor’s degree, however, they also frequently have an MBA and other credentials. By allowing COOs to get substantial expertise in the practices, regulations, and procedures of their chosen area, this steady development helps them become ready for their jobs.

The following are other qualifications of a COO;

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal abilities
  • Outstanding capacity for organization and leadership
  • Knowledge of corporate departments like finance, marketing, and human resources.
  • Ability to make decisions and solve problems BSc/BA in Business Administration or a related discipline; an advantage would be an MSc/MBA
  • Fundraising knowledge.
  • Competence in business development and strategic planning that can be proven
  • Working familiarity with performance/operation metrics and data analysis
  • Working familiarity with MS Office and IT/business infrastructure

What Qualities Make a Good COO? 

The following are some of the qualities that make a good CEO

  • Micro and Macro Thinking
  • Excellent Communication Skills
  • Attentive and Forward Thinking
  • Improvement Oriented
  • A Passion for People and Process
  • Ability To Visualize
  • An Ability To Lead Others
  • A COO Must Be Honest
  • COOs Must Have Integrity

What Is Below a COO? 

A company’s general manager Depending on the nature and scope of their jobs, the general manager may report directly to the chief operating officer (COO) or to a middle-level leader like an operations manager.

Is the Chief Operating Officer Higher Than the VP?

It depends on the organizational structure of the company. In some organizations, the chief operating officer (COO) is seen as the company’s second-in-command and reports directly to the chief executive officer (CEO). More work is typically assigned to the COO than an Executive Vice President. However, compared to a COO, an Executive Vice President typically has more authority and responsibility. As a result of this, we can say the COO is below an Executive Vice President. Executive vice president of operations, chief operations officer, and operations director are all titles that may be used to describe the COO’s role in different companies. On the other hand, in companies that have both the COO and the Vp, the latter may just be higher than the former.

What Does a COO Do Daily? 

The daily duty of a chief operating officer includes overseeing and managing the day-to-day operations of the organization and coordinating with other managers to ensure that all employees are supported in their routine tasks.

  • Setting strategic objectives
  • Assessing potential new business ventures
  • Going over financial reports
  • Addressing customer service concerns
  • Controlling logistics and production
  • Meeting to talk about the status of several projects
  • Taking part in board meetings
  • Creating and carrying out policies
  • Keeping positive connections with coworkers and stakeholders
  • Daily reporting to the CEO

What Is the Next Position After COO? 

Chief Executive Officer. The Chief Operating Officer (COO) is second in command, beneath the CEO. The chief executive officer may answer to the board of directors, the investors, or the company’s founders.

What Does the COO Earn?

About $369,419 to $615,665. According to, the salary of a Chief Operating Officer ranges from $369,419 to $615,665, with an average base salary of $474,961 depending on several variables.

COOs are generally well compensated for their efforts, although they have a great deal of responsibility and need a wide range of abilities. According to PayScale, the typical basic salary for a chief operating officer is $141,757 per year, with bonuses adding another $24,930. PayScale reports that the average COO salary is $246,000. The low end of the salary spectrum is $71,000, and the high end is $246,000. The median pay for a Chief Financial Officer is $131,816 and the median pay for a Chief Executive Officer is $158,193.

How Do You Become a COO?

The road to becoming a COO is varied. While some people quickly advance to the COO position after joining a small startup or co-founding their own business, others take longer. Others gradually climb the corporate ladder within one or more large firms for years or even decades before becoming COO.

However, always broaden your network as you establish your profession. To a great extent, I will fast-track your progress. The majority of accomplished business people reached their positions through a combination of hard work and relationships.

Career Paths to Become a COO 

The path to becoming a COO is not predetermined; however, a few popular professional paths frequently lead to this post. Many COOs have backgrounds in business, finance, or law and start as project managers or in executive positions like vice presidents.

A good number of COOs begin their careers as small-team managers. When they progress up the corporate ladder due to their dedication and length of service, they may be promoted to higher-level jobs.

Again, some COOs began their careers in unrelated fields but later decided to devote more of their time to logistics and operations, which resulted in promotions within their company.

Another thing that can accelerate your career growth is to switch roles and learn along the way. This ensures you grow and never stop learning. When people advance in their careers, this gives them the chance to evolve. Some COOs may advance to managerial roles at one firm before discovering a position at another company that needs new perspectives and experience for their business.

Then gather the necessary skills as you build yourself up. skills must include excellent communication skills, administrative and human resources knowledge

Strong analytical and problem-solving abilities, effectiveness, and productivity

What Are the Two Types of COO?

The following are the types of COOs;

  • The mentor: After gaining experience in a leadership role, an executive will have a thorough grasp of the business and will have developed their own unique set of skills. Based on their contributions, they are among the team’s most valuable players (MVPs). Management will typically make extra efforts to retain a really valuable employee. One of the best methods to keep a valuable employee is to promote them to the chief operating officer. When a firm has a system in place to reward and recognize high performers, they are more likely to stay put rather than look for jobs elsewhere, which helps the business maintain its competitive edge.
  • The heir apparent: A company may promote a potential CEO to the position of chief operating officer (COO) while they continue to evaluate their qualifications. It’s mostly the best time to network with other high-ranking company officials and educate themselves on the business. The company may promote an employee to the CEO if they see them as a good match for the position.
  • The CEO foil: CEOs often have a diverse set of skills at their disposal, such as the capacity to collaborate with others, convey ideas clearly, and make snap decisions. They also have a great deal of experience in the field, and it is to be expected that they will have greater knowledge in some areas than others. By providing expertise in areas where the CEO does not, a chief operating officer (COO) can act as a check on the CEO’s authority. The one who put an end to it
  • The hybrid COO
  • The partner COO
  • The executor
  • The MVP
  • The change agent

What Distinguishes a CEO From a COO?

The primary difference between a CEO and a COO lies in their names. The first strategize, whereas the second ensures the smooth operation of the strategies. Aside from the above, we would say that a CEO is responsible for the direction a company is taking, while a COO is in charge of how that direction will be reached. As simple as this sounds, there’s more to their roles and responsibilities. 

They both have vital roles that have an impact on the company’s success. CEOs rely on COOs to keep an eye on daily operations and offer their perspectives during organizational changes. COOs will take the initiative to build company procedures and make strategic decisions on their own after hearing from CEOs about long-term plans and the views of shareholders.

Let’s contrast these two roles side by side to better grasp how they differ:

POSITIONFirst in commandSecond in command
FEEDBACKReport to the boardReports to CEO
FUNCTIONOversee the long-term planOversee daily operation
FOCUSFocuses on the outside world, working with outside partners, investors, and stakeholdersHas an internal focus, working with multiple divisions to ensure that procedures are operationally sound and that policies are effectively executed
RESPONSIBILITIES Defines the corporate vision Put the company’s goal into action

COO Responsibilities Three Models

 It is undoubtedly true that a COO is faced with several responsibilities, however, these are grouped into 3 models.

#1. Administrative and Operational Tasks

First, on the list of COO 3 models’ responsibilities are operational and administrative roles. Here, other senior managers are in charge of the programs themselves, while the COO is in charge of the operations that support the programs but do not directly involve participants.

#2. In Charge Of All Programs

Here, the COO oversees all programs. Unlike the first model, some COOs are largely in charge of programs, with the ED, the CFO, or another senior executive in charge of the more administrative duties.

The president received reports from the heads of human resources, finances, planning, facilities/operations, development, and external affairs.

The president received reports from the heads of human resources, finances, planning, facilities/operations, development, and external affairs.

#3. Internal Operations

Here, the COO is in charge of the internal functions or operations of a business. Interestingly, the third model is the broadest among the 3 COO responsibility models. This model has the ED concentrating on external issues, including alliances, public relations, and fundraising, while the COO manages all internal operations. 


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