Difference Between CEO and COO (With Table)

CEO stands for Chief Executive Officer while COO stands for Chief Operating Officer. Both these roles are of immense importance in a company that is carrying out operations in very large quantities and quality.

The responsibilities, even though are very large in number for both of these roles, are important in their aspect.


The main difference between CEO and COO is that the Chief Executive Officer is the person who is the top man of the ship, the leader of the company in Toto whereas, Chief operating officer is the person who looks over the day-to-day operational and administrative functions in the company and reports to the CEO.


Comparison Table Between CEO and COO (in Tabular Form)

Parameters of Comparison



Commanding position

Top of all the employees of the company

Second in the chain of command

Answerable to

Chairman if CEO is an appointed one

Answerable to CEO

Faces of the company

The public face of the company

The face of the company to handle internal affairs.

Main responsibilities

Devise plan and strategy for the growth of the company

Implement the plan and strategies devised by the CEO

Presence in company

Always mandatory

Only present when there is a need for that position, in a large scale company.

Determining factors for

Success and failure of the company

The smooth functioning of the company


Who is CEO?

CEO, Chief Executive Officer, is the captain of the ship, who may be the person who founded the company or maybe an appointed one by the founder/ chairperson. S/he is the person responsible for the success or failure of the company.

There are uncountable responsibilities for a CEO. S/he is the person who has a vision for the company, devise plans, strategies, and working flow for a company in all the aspects possible.

S/He is the face of the company when it comes to public attention. He is the topmost executive personnel in a company and the prime decision-maker, though s/he will get suggestions from the Board.

The CEO is the person responsible for the signing of annual reports of a company in all aspects.

The refined responsibilities of a CEO in a reputed company are,

  1. Making up of strategies for short term as well as long term growth of the company.
  2. Act as a communication bridge between the company working resources and the investors, founders, government, and of course the public.
  3. Evaluating the pits into which the company may get stuck into and ensure that the company is prepared for that.
  4. Regular evaluation of the work quality fetched by the other executive officers.

There may sometimes arise a situation where the CEO is an appointed one. In such cases, the CEO is answerable to either the Board of Directors or to the chairperson.


Who is COO?

COO, Chief Operating Officer, is the second person in the hierarchy of command when it comes to well established and large-cap companies. COO usually will be a person who is a compliment to the CEO and has the qualification to sit on the chair of the CEO.

COO is the person who is like a right hand to the CEO. COO is responsible for the proper functioning of various sectors of the company and he should report to the CEO about the day-to-day operational and administrative process that takes place each passing day that build the stepping stones for the company towards a long term goal.

Chief Operating Officer, often comes from the last level of employee, climbing the ladder of the hierarchy of the company, gaining experience from a variety of sectors inside the company, which will aid him/her to maintain a smooth workflow of the company, when s/he sits on the COO chair.

So, COO will have longer work experience in the sector of industries in which the company falls in.

The main responsibilities of COO in a company are,

  1. Evaluating and organizing all the operative and administrative functions inside the company.
  2. Regulating all the internal affairs in a company, whatever they may be in whatever sector.
  3. Implementing the vision, strategy, and goals of the CEO.

Main Differences Between CEO and COO

  1. CEO is the first in commanding hierarchy. COO is answerable to CEO
  2. CEO is responsible for the success or failure of the company. COO is responsible for the smooth functioning of the company process.
  3. CEO is present in all the companies and is a mandatory role. COO is only appointed when the company is large enough to undergo a complex process for growth.
  4. CEO responsibilities mostly involve serving as a bridge between the company and the public/ investors/founders. COO responsibilities involve serving as a connection between the company employees and the CEO.
  5. CEO is answerable only to the chairperson or board of directors. COO is answerable to the CEO.
  6. CEO is responsible for devising the goals, strategy, plans in a company. COO is responsible for the proper execution of the plans and strategies devised by the CEO.



Even though the aforesaid two roles are the most important in a company, that may be a growing or a well established one, with a difference in their responsibilities, they have certain downfalls because the roles are of immense importance in the organization of the company and the persons sitting on those chairs should be a competent one with appropriate qualifications and qualities to lead the company towards the success.

If a person who is not fit for such a job sits on those chairs, then it may lead to the doom of even a well-reputed company. This fact is evident from a large pool of examples in the history of industries and entrepreneurship.

Even though the CEO has more power than the COO, both should work together to make the company a success. And conflicts between them should be managed diplomatically as much as possible. For this the personal and professional experience together with knowledge is essential.

To be concise, the CEO and COO are the programmers, designers, and maintenance persons of the basic wheels of the company on which it travels.



  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2008-12235-016
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/smj.4250120206