Know Before You Hire: Understanding the Role of a COO

CEOs: What are your expectations of a COO?

There are definitely responsibilities that fall under the COO role. Equally important is that there are duties that DON’T. 

If you’re expecting the latter, from a COO that may not have the expertise to actually deliver on your expectations, it becomes a (very) sticky situation. 

For example, “marketing.”

  • Should marketing strategists work with COOs? Absolutely.
  • Should COOs drive marketing strategy? Probably not.

This is just one role to consider, although there are any number of others (think: eCommerce teams, IT teams, consumer experience teams…). I think it’s important to look at the scope of the COO role—full time or fractional—so you know what you might need and what you might need to consider when hiring.

What IS a COO?

Let’s look at the core responsibilities of a COO… 

1) The Architect of Operations

At its core, the COO’s role involves overseeing the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of a company. This includes ensuring that the business operations are efficient and effective, aligning with the strategic goals set forth by the CEO and board.

2) The Implementer of Vision

While the CEO sets the vision, it’s the COO who is often tasked with implementing it. This means turning lofty goals into tangible operational plans, processes, and outcomes.

3) A Key Decision-Maker

The COO is involved in critical decision-making processes, especially those that affect an organization’s operations. Their decisions are based on data, operational metrics, and the long-term strategic objectives of the organization.

4) A Bridge Between Different Departments

A COO ensures that all departments work synergistically towards common goals. They foster communication and collaboration across teams, breaking down silos that can hinder progress and innovation.

5) An Innovator and Problem Solver

Coos are responsible for identifying bottlenecks in operations and finding innovative solutions to overcome them. A COO is always on the lookout for ways to improve processes, increase efficiency, and reduce costs.

Do You Have Gaps a COO Could Fill?

A COO plays a vital role in the success of a company, acting as the linchpin that connects various parts of the organization with its strategic objectives. Understanding what a COO is (and what they are not) helps clarify the significance of this role in today’s corporate world. 

By debunking common misconceptions, we can better appreciate the unique challenges and contributions of COOs across industries.

If you are in need of a COO, based on the above descriptions, I can help—particularly in a fractional role. You can contact me here via my website or email me directly at

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