Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between CEO and COO


There are some companies that are just too large and may essentially need not only a CEO but also COOs. However, one may ask: ‘What is exactly the distinction between these two seemingly similar positions?’

CEO means Chief Executive Officer and the person with this prestigious role has immense responsibilities. On the whole, the CEO is the leader of the company and director of an organization’s policies, mission, and goals. CEOs are often considered as the head honcho, the number one person-in-charge ‘“ the Captain of the ship if you will. It can be said that all persons involve in the company’s operation report to the CEO, including the COO but let’s get to that later.

For relatively smaller companies, it is the norm for company presidents to be the CEO. However, there are cases that you can have a CEO and there are several presidents below him/her ‘“ such as in multi-company conglomerates.

In huge corporations, the CEO role is normally given to and held by the Chairman of the Board. This makes the president second in command as the COO. Yet, there are rare cases that CEOs, outside of the board, are brought in based on superior credentials and proven capabilities to handle the responsibility. CEOs will always have authority over all other company personnel as they have the last say in policy and management decision-making.

The CEO has the command responsibility and will be held accountable whether the entire company succeeds or fails. It is his/her job to carry out the main directives of the board.

The Chief Operations Officer or COO, on the other hand, is a position that also holds a tremendous amount of responsibility. COOs oversee the functions and general operations of the company. Actually, this is also one of the major roles of CEOs but when the company is too large, a COO or several COOs are needed to lessen the burden.

The COO reports to the CEO. The COO will often be involved in all facets of the CEO’s responsibilities. He/she should be able to advise and help the CEO with the decision-making. COOs will often have to work closely with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Information Officer (CIO), and other officers to make appropriate operational adjustments.

COO positions are often given to and held by the Vice Presidents of companies. A person that holds a COO position is legally accountable for every corporate action and decision he/she makes.


1. CEO means Chief Executive Officer while COO means Chief Operations Officer.

2. The CEO is often the highest ranking officer of the company. The COO reports to the CEO.

3. The CEO title is often given to or held by the Chairman of the Board or the President while the COO is often held by the ranked Vice President of the company.

4. The CEO is the supreme overseer; the COO works closely with the CFO, CIO, and other officers to give effective advice and decision-making aid to the CEO regarding adjustments in operations.

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