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CEO vs COO – what is the difference?

Both the CEO and COO – known as C-suite positions – are members of an organisation’s or business’ senior management team but the roles and responsibilities do differ.

A CEO is the top-ranking employee in a company’s structure. They set the overall direction of a company and make strategic decisions about the long-term success of the business.

A COO is seen as the second top-ranking individual and is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the company. They work in collaboration for the benefit of the business.

What is a Chief Executive Officer (CEO)?

A CEO is responsible for an organisation’s or company’s entire operations. They report to the board of directors, implement board decisions and focus on long-term goals. They are also the organisation’s spokesperson.

Role and responsibilities of a CEO

  • Overseeing the company’s overall operations and plans for the future.
  • Managing the company’s organisational structure and overseeing other C-suite leaders such as the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Finance Officer.
  • Driving revenue and profitability.
  • Communicating with the board, reporting monthly progress, operating plans and budgets.

What is a Chief Operating Officer (COO)?

A COO supervises a company’s operations and is more involved in the day-to-day activities than the CEO. The second senior executive in the C-suite, the COO reports directly to the CEO.

Role and responsibilities of a COO

  • Managing daily business operations.
  • Implementing the organisation’s goals and strategy.
  • Developing and implementing policies for daily operations to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.

How do the two roles differ?

Both roles have high-level responsibilities that affect the success of the business. CEOs rely on COOs to keep an eye on daily operations and provide their insights in the course of organisational changes.

On their part, COOs will make strategic decisions and establish company procedures once they get input from CEOs regarding bigger picture plans and shareholders’ perspectives.

The salaries of a CEO and COO are comparable, given they are both senior executive positions.

What are the other C-suite roles in a company?

C-suite executives hold senior positions and are involved in company decisions. C stands for ‘chief’ meaning an individual is in charge of a department or business unit. Examples include Chief Finance Officer and Chief Technology Officer.

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