Tune in to any business channel or podcast, whether online or on TV, and chances are you’ll see an interview with a CEO. If I mention the word CEO, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For some people, a superhero with incredible creativity and panache (think Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs). For others, a villain that does very little plays golf every other day and gets paid a lot.
The Duties of a CEO Explored.
The latter was mainly the case in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis ― when front-page news included regular negative interviews, stories and consumer sentiments of high-paid (banking) CEOs and their involvement in the loss of billions by the market and the man on the street.
In a company where individuals are recruited for certain roles and work in specific divisions, the Startup Chief Executive Officer is at the public forefront and is targeted when something goes wrong. The individual must juggle many balls, including strategy, leadership, innovation, and employee performance.
A CEO’s role varies from company to company depending on the company’s size and overall structure. In relatively small companies, the Chief Executive often has a much more hands-on role, making most business decisions, including lower-level ones. However, in larger organisations, the Chief Executive typically deals with only the higher-level company strategy and directs its overall growth, with most other tasks delegated to other managers or various departments.
So, what are the primary duties of a Chief Executive (The CEO Job Description)?
CEO Duties #1 ― Visionary Thinker:
CEOs set the tone and the vision for their organisation. Core to their existence effectively communicates their vision (and dreams) for the company, even if it may seem farfetched and unattainable. Some CEOs rise to public fame and severe scrutiny.
Steve Jobs, founder and former CEO of Apple, was a flamboyant Chief Executive and notorious for his role in the company, resulting in numerous films and documentaries about him. Like Elon Musk, other CEOs regularly make headlines for their communication behaviour on Twitter.
Crafting, conveying, and implementing the organisation’s vision, mission, and direction while leading the development and implementation of the overall organisation’s strategy is arguably one of the most important duties of a Chief Executive.
Read more on this topic in our article Starting a Business in 2023? Here are 15 Ways to Find New Business Ideas.
CEO Duties #2 ― Strategic Leader:
Directing, coaching, and mentoring the executive team while leading these senior leaders to sound performance and excellence is at the heart of a CEO’s role. The Chief Executive must ensure that he provides strategic direction that filters down through the organisation to ensure its achievement. A critical component in the CEO’s arsenal is leading by example and from the front.
It is necessary to make the organisation’s mission a success. Creating a learning organisation that will continue to grow and flourish and enhancing the skills and abilities of employees are integral parts of a CEO’s role.
CEO Duties #3 ― Operational Captain:
Overseeing an organisation’s complete and successful operation with the strategic plans mapping the course of action is another essential duty of a Chief Executive. It is vital to design the organisation to facilitate and support the operations while evaluating whether the organisation is successful in reaching its goals.
CEO Duties #4 ― Resource Magician:
The Chief Executive is the individual that must perform the task of balancing resources. Adequate resource availability and effective utilisation ― the two most important being capital and people ― are vital to ensure a successful organisation. Most executives and managers have experience in dealing with budgets and allocating resources.
However, it is the CEO’s responsibility to balance resources properly and allocate them to divisions and initiatives that will meet the company’s objectives. Making such vital decisions requires an in-depth understanding of business, industry, markets, and stakeholders. Recruiting the right people and appointing them to the right positions with the proper training is one of the most important duties a Chief Executive will fulfil.
CEO Duties #5 ― Cultural Guru:
A company’s culture is the set of shared goals, behaviours, and beliefs that define a group. It culminates into how things are done at a company and influence not only the employee experiences but, eventually, the customer experiences.
Every organised group develops a culture ― whether explicitly recognised or not ― and the Chief Executive must regularly observe and be involved in achieving the desired organisational culture. The most critical part of a company’s culture is its values. The Chief Executive must ensure these values flow throughout the organisation and are consistently applied from top to bottom across all divisions.
CEO Duties #6 ― Father Time:
Efficiently managing one’s time between professional and personal responsibilities is an integral concern for all CEOs. Harvard professors Michael Porter and Nitin Nohria launched a 12-years study in 2006, intending to track how 27 CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies spent their days. It revealed the following:
- On average, CEOs worked 9.7 hours per weekday.
- They worked 79% of weekend days at an average of 3.9 hours daily.
- Working comprised 31% of their time, while 25% was devoted to personal time.
- Furthermore, 29% was spent sleeping, 10% commuting, and 5% on vacation.
CEO Duties #7 ― Mirror, Mirror on the Wall. I’m the Face of it All:
Experiencing feelings of dread, anxiety, apathy, lack of enthusiasm, and boredom? These are, for many, the experience they have at networking or attending a networking event. However, this is a vital component of a CEO’s duties. A CEO’s network is, these days, quite expansive, especially with the advent of social media and online networking sites. However, with quantity comes a risk to quality. There are networks, and then there are trusted networks.
Merely “linking” with somebody on LinkedIn doesn’t define a network ― or at least not one you can reliably lean on over time. Regardless of its reputation, networking is essential for CEOs.
Although we might avoid the word “network,” our networks present opportunities, and we grow and become more successful. A Chief Executive, through networking, represents the organization for civic and professional association responsibilities and activities at the local community and national levels. Participating in industry-related events or associations that will enhance the CEO’s leadership skills, the organization’s reputation, and the organisation’s potential for success is important.
While it’s important for relationships to be reciprocal and uplifting to both parties, successful CEOs adopt a servant leadership perspective where appropriate. Lifting other people into one’s network through leveraging what you know shows a form of generosity ― doing something for someone else without expecting anything in return. It may be at direct odds with our conventional networking concept, but in today’s day and age, when social media is reducing human interaction and diluting the value of real connections, amazing returns ― although they may only come to fruition way down the road ― can be expected.