Chief Operating Officer (COO): Definition, Types, and Responsibilities


A Chief Operating Officer (COO) is one of the most important members of any organization and looks after the entire operations to get things going. In most cases, COOs have a strong educational background and extensive experience in managing people. Apart from that, they are also great communicators and have the ability to make quick decisions. They are strong leaders and have years of work experience.

In this article, you will learn about the job of Chief Operating Officer (COO) and what is the role of this individual in any organization. Apart from that, we will also share the responsibilities of the COO and discuss the necessary skills one needs to have to become an effective and successful COO. Finally, we will share with you the necessary steps you can take to become a COO in any organization. Hence, to learn more, read on to the end.

Who Is A Chief Operating Officer (COO)?

Who Is A Chief Operating Officer (COO)

According to Investopedia,

The chief operating officer (COO) is a senior executive tasked with overseeing the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of a business. The COO typically reports directly to the chief executive officer (CEO) and is considered to be second in the chain of command.” 

In many organizations, COOs are also known as “Chief Operations Office”, “Executive Vice President of Operations”, “Operations Director,” etc.

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The Role Of A Chief Operating Officer

You will be the individual in the organization who is second in command, and you will be reporting to the CEO.

According to,

The COO is focused more on implementing company strategies into daily operations to meet objectives. Chief operating officer responsibilities and salary will vary depending on the company, and the role is often influenced by the CEO’s personal management style. It’s important for the CEO and COO to be efficient collaborators and work in tandem to steward the company with the best leadership.

Depending on the preference of the CEO, the COO also handles the internal affairs of the company, while the CEO functions as the external face of the company. Hence, the COO needs to have strong analytical, managerial, leadership, and communication skills. This allows the COO to handle the operations of the organization in the most effective manner.

Execution of the business plan according to the established business model is the topmost priority of the COO. The COO’s job is to implement the working of the business as per the business plan.

What Are The Responsibilities Of A Chief Operating Officer?

As already discussed, the COO is responsible for processing the daily operations of the company. The individual’s job is hectic and contains a mixture of various jobs. Here are the responsibilities of a COO:

  • Recruitment and hiring of new individuals inside the company
  • Production oversight
  • Overlooking the financial operations along with the CFO of the company.
  • Budget development
  • Executing business strategy and planning to execute along with managers from various departments.

Apart from that, you must also keep in mind that the role of the COO can change from company to company, depending on the number of employees or the company’s structure. In most cases, the COO is chosen in such a way as to complement the skills and abilities of the CEO so that both work in tandem with each other.

Qualifications And Skills Required For A Chief Operating Officer

One of the major things that COOs need is extensive experience in the given field of work. They often have years of experience working in various positions. This is how the COO gathers skills and cultivates the experience of leading in an organization by understanding how the organization operates.

Some of the major skills required for a COO are problem-solving, leadership, effective communication, multitasking, and resourcefulness.

How To Become A Chief Operating Officer (COO)? – Steps To Take

According to an article in Harvard Business Review,

Ask anyone who has worked as or alongside a COO—the job is demanding. Now we know it’s unique, as well. Perhaps that’s why COO is the only C-suite title to which there is no magazine devoted. It’s a trivial observation but perhaps a telling one; the common set of issues and interests that would imply simply does not exist.

If you want to become a COO, you will need to take a long ride since the experience required to become a COO is extensive. It is a C-suite role, and only a person is required for this job who has several leadership qualities. Hence, it might take many years for you, including learning and job experience. Here are the steps you will need to take if you want to become a COO:

Step 1: You will need to get your degree (Bachelor’s or Master’s). In some cases, COOs also have a PhD in certain disciplines. Make sure your degree deals with business strategy and operations management. This will provide you with a great foundation for the position.

Step 2: As a COO, you will need to have varied experience across departments. Furthermore, companies also look for people who have experience in varied positions in a company.

Step 3: You will need to extensively develop your managerial and leadership skills. What you are preparing for is one of the top positions in an organizational hierarchy.

Step 4: Start Networking. You can only get the role of a COO if you have built productive and respectful relationships both inside and outside the company you currently work for. One of the ways to start this is through LinkedIn.

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Final Thought

One of the major aspects of a Chief Operating Officer (COO) is that the individual has a strong educational background and years of work experience. The COO must have worked in a variety of positions, mostly in the same organization. This makes them understand different parts of the business and how things work in the business.

The COO is detail-oriented and can easily pinpoint issues and gaps within the organization. They are also great communicators and flexible managers. What do you think is an absolutely essential trait in COOs? Share your opinion with us in the comments section below.

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