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Ups and downs of a COO

A promotion to COO seems like a great move, but it’s not always good news, especially when you are poorly suited to the responsibility. A lot of individuals strive to get to the top of the corporate ladder only to discover what organizational consultants have known all along- being at the top isn’t easy.

But first, CEOs and COOSs? Are there any differences?

CEOs are responsible for laying out an organization’s strategy, including introducing new lines of business and adding acquisitions. In some other cases, CEOs are responsible for making decisions about which businesses should be offloaded. CEOs are also often called upon to travel from country to country, business to business acting as a sort of corporate salesperson. During these travels, deals are sealed- many deals.

COOs, on the other hand, have a much firmer grasp of all business operations. That means that they understand just how different business functions interact with one another. They know exactly what is needed when the organization needs a tune-up so that performance can be boosted and so that the highest quality products and services can be availed.

As you can expect, a lot of CEOs don’t like COO duties as they are typically too task-oriented and too commonplace. Whether you are a CEO or a COO, being in a position of leadership can be terrific. That’s because you’re it. When people see you, they see the organization.

And yet, top positions such as COO are a double-edged sword. So before you decide that COO is what you want the most, here are some ups and down that, you ought to be aware of:


You’re the star of the show. You are synonymous with your company’s operations, which means that you make all the major decisions. When you are COO, you are ultimately responsible for disrupting old traditions especially when you have begun to exhaust all operational processes and habits that used to work but no longer do.

As COO you have the power to inject life into your organization. When your strategies succeed, the sense of accomplishment that one feels as a COO is unbeatable. The command and respect of others around you can be intoxicating so you’re not likely to hear a lot of disagreement.


All the respect and admiration that you will receive as COO means one thing; that you will have to work harder than anyone else in the entire organization. If you don’t, you are just as dispensable as the intern in the mailroom. That’s the COO title- it comes with extremes that can be hard to handle. As such, one must be prepared and well suited for the job, otherwise it is easy to crack under the pressure.


You have to exude power when you are a CEO. If you don’t, it’s going to be difficult for people to look towards you for leadership. However, it can be difficult to maintain a balance; you want to appear strong and confident, without seeming like a jerk.

A good COO needs to walk the talk. A good COO understands every role in the organization; they take time to fully understand how their organizations work, which is what gives them the capacity to identify gaps and understand what the organization requires.

But at the same time, it’s very lonely at the top. When you are COO, the buck begins and stops with you. Whenever you have to make difficult choices, there is really no one that you can turn to. Sure, you can turn to your board for advice, but ultimately the final decisions rest with you. And this kind of pressure can be debilitating, overbearing in some cases.


As COO, you will set the tone and standard for your company culture. Have you always wanted to work in an environment that promotes wellness? You have the power to effect change in your organization. Want your office space to be a little more joyful? Why not add some games and fan components like they do in Silicon Valley?

A good COO focuses on factors that can create a successful company and a positive work environment. As well all know, happy employees are engaged employees and when employees are content, the benefits will easily trickle down.


Your ideas and efforts aren’t always going to work. There will be good days and a lot of bad days. On some days, you will be so proud of the things that your business has accomplished. But this won’t be the case every day.

The role of COO can be thrilling and exhilarating. It’s a great experience that’s also characterized by numerous ups and downs. So if you want to be an effective COO for your organization, then you have to brace yourself for everything in between.

Final Thoughts

Most modern organizations only have one unrivaled role; that of COO. The role of a COO is often misunderstood, mainly because the responsibilities vary from one organization to the next. The COO job is the most powerful and high sought after in the corporate world. It is also the most influential, but it is anything but easy.

The COO job requires a lot of patience. Unlike other roles, it doesn’t come with immediate gratification. Rather than being in charge of one department, which is typically easier to handle, COOs have to work through various departments, and the results are typically much slower.

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