What Does a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Do?

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The job duties of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in a company or organization vary depending on the organization's mission, product, goals, and operational needs to stay profitable. Duties also vary depending on the size of the organization and the number of employees, among other factors. 

The CEO is always the highest-ranking executive manager in an organization and has responsibility for the overall success of the organization, and is the ultimate decision-maker. s for an organization. 

And, while the daily tasks of each Chief Executive vary, it is the overall vision of the position that provides the framework for the functionality of all departments.

The Overall Framework for the CEO's Role

The CEO has overall responsibility for creating, planning, implementing, and integrating the strategic direction of an organization. This includes responsibility for all components and departments of a business.  

As with any level of management in an organization, the CEO's role starts with the fundamental job responsibilities of a manager.

It is also the responsibility of the CEO to ensure that the organization's leadership maintains constant awareness of both the external and internal competitive landscape, opportunities for expansion, customer base, markets, new industry developments and standards, and so forth.

Board of Directors

In a typical corporation, the CEO reports to the Board of Directors or in some non-profit settings, such as state government, the CEO may head up an agency or department and report to the office of the governor. The CEO will always serve at the discretion of the Board of Directors.

The CEO may also own the business, and may have founded the business, so his or her commitment to the business is significant. They may also own a significant portion of the company or its stock. In these cases, a Board of Directors may exist, but its authority is nominal and advisory to the CEO.

General Responsibilities of a CEO

Whether the top person is both the president and CEO or just the CEO, he or she is the top person in charge of an organization and has specific responsibilities depending on the needs of the organization.

In general, these responsibilities include:

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  • Creating, communicating, and implementing the organization's vision, mission, and overall direction. Leading the development and implementation of the overall organization's strategy.
  • Leading, guiding, directing, and evaluating the work of other executive leaders including presidents, vice presidents, and directors, depending on the organization's reporting structure. In the process of leading these senior leaders, the CEO makes certain that the strategic direction the CEO filters down through the organization to ensure its achievement.
  • Evaluating the success of the organization in reaching its goals. Making sure that each strategic goal is measurable or that the outcomes can be described in a way that an agreed upon picture is shared by the team.
  • Looking at potential acquisitions or the sale of the company under circumstances that will enhance shareholder value.
  • Representing the organization for civic and professional association responsibilities and activities in the local community, the state, and at the national level. Other senior leaders bear responsibility for these ventures as the CEO sees fit.
  • Participating in industry-related events or associations that will enhance the CEO's leadership skills, the organization's reputation, and the organization's potential for success.  
  • Demonstrating the leadership necessary to make the organization's mission a success. This leadership includes providing leadership vision, leadership that attracts followers, and all other aspects of successful leadership.
  • Creating a learning organization that will continue to grow and flourish and enhancing the skills and abilities of employees. Only if the significant players continue to learn and grow will the organization truly succeed.

    Additionally, the CEO must ensure that the organization's leaders experience the consequences of their actions whether through reward and recognition or performance coaching and disciplinary actions. Without responsibility and accountability that is actively expected and reinforced, the CEO will fail to attain desired success and profitability.