Chief Operations Officer Definition

The Chief Operations Officer (COO) is the top executive responsible for overseeing and optimizing the day-to-day operations and processes of a company to ensure efficiency and productivity.

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While many people are familiar with other high-level business executive titles, they are lost on the definition of a chief operations officer. The chief operations officer’s definition involves a high-ranking executive in a business or other organization.

Other Names for Chief Operations Officer

In general, the chief operations officer is considered a business executive. Someone in the role of a chief operations officer may also be known as a chief operating officer. Like a chief executive officer who’s referred to as a CEO, people refer to a chief operations officer as a COO. Chief operations officers are referred to as C-level executives or C-suite executives, with the C standing for “chief.” 

Duty of Chief Operations Officer Examples

Most people are unaware of the role that a chief operations officer plays in a company. Familiarizing yourself with the typical duties and responsibilities of a chief operations officer can help you understand whether you truly need this role to exist in your own business. Chief operating officers are typically hired to:

  • Carry out the CEO’s business strategies
  • Lead an initiative
  • Provide the CEO with a partner
  • Balance the strengths and weaknesses of the CEO
  • Have a successor in place in the event the CEO steps down or becomes unavailable

The key to having a great COO that helps a business function is the relationship between the CEO and COO. Both parties must work well together and maintain a high level of trust. Although the role of a chief operations officer seems general, having a great chief operations officer can help a business soar. 

Chief Operations Officer Benefits

Enlisting the assistance of the right chief operations officer has its benefits for many businesses, especially those that are operations intensive. A CEO essentially hires a COO to act in a role similar to that of a vice president. This means that the CEO has a lesser burden of responsibility. Chief operations officer advantages do not stop there. A chief operations officer benefits a company by providing flexibility. In other words, a COO is an executive that can wear multiple hats and stand-in for other business executives when necessary to keep the company operating smoothly. 

Other Business Executive Examples

Chief operations officers play an integral role in the success of a business. But there are other C-level executives in most companies, including:

  • Chief Executive Officer: Handles and oversees all business operations and decisions while remaining responsible for the success of the business
  • Chief Operations Officer: Is responsible for executing the business plans and strategies of the CEO while acting as second-in-command to the CEO
  • Chief Financial Officer: Is responsible for all of a company’s finances including, strategy, planning, and risk analysis
  • Chief Technology Officer: Oversees the implementation of new systems, data storage, and infrastructure
  • Chief Marketing Officer: Is responsible for generating and executing effective marketing strategies
  • Chief Human Resource Officer: Oversees the management of people within the business including, hiring, training, promoting, and evaluating

Not every company needs an entire board of C-suite executives. In the case of a small business, you are more likely to have just a CEO to begin your business. However, adding these key players can be essential for the expansion and long-term success of a business. 


The definition of a chief operations officer (COO) is a C-level executive of a business or organization. The COO plays the role of vice president to the CEO and oversees all business operations. 

We Can Help

If you are beginning your small business, we can assist you. As your business grows, you’ll need to expand your executive board and have ready access to more business documents to accommodate that growth. That’s why we offer a Business Documents Templates Library for your business needs. This service helps small business owners by providing access to customizable business documents such as employment agreements, confidentiality agreements, and non-compete agreements. 

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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