CEOs: Do You Really Need a COO?

CEOs: Aside from all the day-to-day duties you encounter, what is the biggest barrier you face?

I hope it’s not battling with your COO! 

In business, CEOs and COOs have distinct responsibilities. An oversimplified explanation I’ve seen again and again is, “CEOs are in charge of where the company is going, while COOs are in charge of how the company will get there.”

Essentially, the CEO has the vision and the COO executes it. Like I said… oversimplified

Evolving Roles and Relationships of CEOs and COOs

In reality, the roles are much more complex. Plus, it’s not like the CEO is constantly in “idea” mode, spending their days dreaming up ethereal concepts that the COO must bring down to earth. Nor does it mean the COO is down in the basement churning out plans and processes. 

In fact, there are times when CEOs and COOs work alongside each other in similar capacities. The most successful companies are those in which CEOs and COOs build strong relationships and have open lines of communication. Over the past five years, the COO role has also experienced an “evolution,” meaning these professionals must form even greater bonds and trust with their partner CEOs.

There are also cases when a company is lacking a COO and the CEO is tasked with stepping in and fulfilling the role. As you might imagine, this is not an ideal scenario in many instances. It’s one thing to work with a COO on a vision, it’s quite another to take on the full responsibility.

Why Is the Role Empty?

If the COO seat is open, how can CEOs ensure they don’t spend more time in it than their own chair? First, it’s important to understand WHY the COO role is empty. 

  • Is it a financial/budgetary issue? 
  • Do you, as a CEO, actually prefer to perform both roles’ duties?
  • Maybe you’ve been told you don’t need a COO?
  • Have you simply been unable to find a candidate that meets your wants and needs? 

All are relevant and none are “wrong.” Every CEO faces unique challenges and has their own way of mitigating them. But, if you truly want to bring a COO on board, there are new solutions you might consider.

If you’re interested in exploring different COO options, I have some insights to offer. Connect with me on my website or email me at

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