Many organizations have a COO, or Chief Operating Officer, on their leadership team. Normally, the COO reports directly to the CEO, or chief executive officer. In some organizations, the COO is considered the second in the group’s chain of command. The COO’s title changes from company to company. For example, they may also be called the vice president of operations, chief operations officer, or operations director.
The fact that there are many different names for the position of COO reflects the diversity in the tasks performed. There is no single widely agreed upon job description, which makes the position a difficult one to study.
What Does a COO Do?
Most COOs are responsible for managing a business’ operational and administrative functions. The COO follows a company’s business model and implements business plans. They are very much focused on keeping things running smoothly on a day-to-day basis, while the CEO is more focused on long-term goals. One way to think about it is that the CEO creates plans, but the COO is the one to put them into action.
Although every organization’s approach varies, the COO normally is the individual responsible for managing a company’s internal affairs. The CEO, on the other hand, is responsible for public communications as the face of the company.
Most COOs bring a variety of skills to the table. Normally, the individual offers extensive experience in the organization’s field. Most of the time it takes someone at least 15 years to reach the position of COO. This period of time helps them grow their industry knowledge and sharpen the skills they’ll need to be a strong member of the c-suite.
Most COOs hold a bachelor’s degree at the very minimum. However, many of them enter the role with an MBA, or Master’s in Business Administration, and other certifications.
Whatever their education, COOs have to be resourceful, excellent problem solvers, and possess great leadership skills. The role of Chief Operating Officer is not standard from organization to organization, which sometimes makes the role difficult to pinpoint. People from a variety of backgrounds can become successful COOs. Sometimes a COO is responsible for all areas of operations, while other times they focus on a single important business need. What a COO does and the background required varies by organization.