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coo vs. Executive Director: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

The coo and executive director are both important positions within a company. The coo is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company, while the executive director is responsible for developing and implementing the company’s strategy. Both positions require excellent leadership and management skills. In this article, we compare and contrast the coo and executive director roles, and we provide tips for success in each position.

What is a COO?

The chief operating officer (COO) is a senior executive tasked with overseeing the day-to-day operations of a company. The COO is responsible for ensuring that the company runs smoothly and efficiently. They work closely with the CEO to develop and implement strategic plans. The COO is also responsible for ensuring that all departments are working together effectively and efficiently to meet company goals. To do this, the COO may develop and oversee operational policies, procedures and systems. They may also be responsible for managing the company budget and ensuring that the company meets its financial goals.

What is an Executive Director?

Executive Directors are responsible for leading and managing an organization. They develop and implement strategies and policies to ensure the organization meets its goals. They also oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization and manage its staff. Executive Directors typically report to the Board of Directors. They may also be responsible for fundraising and developing relationships with key stakeholders.

COO vs. Executive Director

Here are the main differences between a COO and an executive director.

Job Duties

Co-directors share many of the same duties, but they may divide them differently based on their areas of expertise. For example, one co-director might handle fundraising and marketing while the other manages staff and volunteers. An executive director typically has broader job responsibilities that don’t fall within specific departments. This includes things like overseeing the budget, developing a strategic plan and maintaining positive relationships with stakeholders.

Job Requirements

The job requirements for a COO and executive director can vary depending on the organization. However, most COOs and executive directors have at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration or another related field. Additionally, many organizations prefer candidates to have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or another advanced degree. Some COOs and executive directors also have experience working in other managerial roles before being promoted to their current position.

Work Environment

The work environment for a chief operating officer and an executive director can vary depending on the company. For example, if they work in a manufacturing facility, they may spend most of their time there overseeing production and quality control. If they work at a retail store, they may spend more time in that location ensuring customer satisfaction and sales goals are met.

Executive directors often have more flexibility in where they work because they oversee multiple locations. They may travel to different offices or sites to ensure operations are running smoothly. Chief operating officers typically only work in one location, but they may also travel to visit other facilities.


Both chief operating officers and executive directors are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of their respective organizations. This includes tasks such as developing and implementing strategies, setting goals, managing staff, and budgeting. Because of this, both positions require excellent leadership, communication, and organizational skills.

However, there are some key differences between the two roles. For example, a chief operating officer is typically more focused on the operational side of things, while an executive director is more focused on the strategic side. Additionally, a chief operating officer is usually responsible for a specific area or department within an organization, whereas an executive director is responsible for the overall operation of the organization.


The average salary for a COO is $132,974 per year, while the average salary for an executive director is $94,335 per year. The salary for both positions may vary depending on the size of the company, the industry in which the company operates and the level of experience the individual has in the field.


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