CEO vs COO: Roles, Responsiblities and Differences

differences between a CEO and a COO

In the complex landscape of corporate leadership, two of the most prominent roles that stand out are the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO). Both of them work together closely to help an organisation achieve its long-term goals; however, when it comes to specific roles and responsibilities, there are quite a few differences that lie between them.

By having a deep knowledge of the distinction between the roles and responsibilities of CEO vs COO, you can understand how companies function and decide your future career path as well.

On that note, mentioned below is a detailed exploration where we will delve into the roles, responsibilities and differences between a CEO and a COO.

What is a CEO?

Simply put, the CEO is the visionary leader of an organisation. He/she represents the top-most tier of leadership in a company and is entrusted with the duty of overseeing the day-to-day operations of an enterprise. Depending on the size of the organisation, a CEO can be the president, founder or even the chairperson of the board of directors. 

Did you know that as much as 45% of company performance is influenced by the CEO? Yet another study suggests that CEOs affect 15% of the variance in profitability. 

Overall, CEOs are instrumental in shaping the culture and values of an organisation. They set the tone for the company’s ethos and ensure that it is in perfect synchronisation with the overarching vision. 

Roles and Responsibilities of a CEO

The specific roles and responsibilities of a CEO might differ depending on the organisational structure or the industry. Nonetheless, some of the most basic yet crucial tasks that every individual holding this position is expected to fulfil include:

  • Monitoring company performance based on financial and non-final metrics
  • Setting precedence for the working culture and environment
  • Collaborating with board members to ensure complete transparency and getting feedback regarding the overall direction of the organisation
  • Maintaining positive relationships with media and public relations entities, addressing the public on notable changes in the company, and attending community events
  • Overseeing the strategic direction of an organisation
  • Implementing all the required changes and proposed plans as and when required 

The current average salary of a CEO in India is estimated at INR 31,27,018 per annum. However, please note that this is just a tentative figure, meaning it can vary depending on multiple factors such as the company size, location and work experience. 

What is a COO?

Moving on, the Chief Operations Officer, also commonly referred to as the COO, is the second in command to the CEO. He/she is entrusted with the responsibility of taking the CEO’s vision for the company and turning the same into an executable action plan. In addition to this, COOs are also required to oversee the daily business operations and ensure that every team member across every department of an enterprise is working towards fulfilling the organisational goals.

For example, a company might be experiencing a drop in the market share. In such a case, the CEO may call for increased quality control to restore its positive reputation among consumers. The ultimate responsibility of carrying out this mandate falls on the shoulders of the COO, who then has to collaborate with the human resources department to ensure the hiring of more quality personnel employees. 

Roles and Responsibilities of COO

Depending on the needs of an organisation, the roles and responsibilities of a Chief Operation Officer might differ from company to company. Nonetheless, some of the most basic responsibilities of a COO include:

  • Devising effective business strategies that ensure growth and minimise the chances of risks
  • Collaborating with other departments and team members for budgeting and financial planning
  • Overseeing the day-to-day processes of an organisation 
  • Developing policies that foster a positive work culture and environment
  • Providing regular updates to the CEO, highlighting operational successes or challenges that may require strategic adjustments
  • Monitoring company audits of income and expenditures 

The average salary of a COO in India is currently estimated at INR 41,01,334 per annum. However, this figure might vary depending on multiple factors such as location, work experience or the organisation.

CEO vs COO: Navigating the Differences

Now that you have a clear understanding of the various roles and responsibilities of a CEO and a COO, let’s take a look at some of the differences that exist between these two crucial roles in an organisation.

First in command Second in command
CEOs have the ultimate decision-making authority. COOs contribute to decision-making but might not always have the final say.
CEO shapes the vision and the long-term goals of an organisation. COOs ensure day-to-day efficiency and are primarily focused on the execution of the company vision.
CEOs manage external relationships and act as the public face of an enterprise. COOs focus on internal leadership and operational dynamics.
CEOs are accountable for the ultimate success or failure of a company. COOs are held accountable for how well a company functions. 


Wrapping it all up, CEOs and COOs play distinct yet contemporary roles in the vast business landscape. While the former charts the course and sets the vision, the latter ensures that everything runs smoothly and helps the organisation reach all its goals. When brought together, they become a powerful duo that drives the success and sustainability of any organisation. 

If you wish to pursue such a C-suite role, then do not forget to check out this Chief Operating Officer Certification program, brought to you by Imarticus Learning in collaboration with IIM Raipur. In this 10-month duration COO training program, you will get to acquire some of the essential skills required to excel in this field. In addition to this, the IIM Raipur certificate course also brings forth numerous advantages, including curated C-suite training, CXO masterclasses, campus immersion, and more!

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