The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the highest-ranking individual in a company in terms of leadership roles and responsibilities. The CEO leads the development and execution of a company’s overall strategies and makes top-level business decisions. Ultimately responsible for the overall success of the company, the CEO answers only to the board of directors (BoD). To ensure plans match the company’s operational and financial capability, a CEO works closely with the Chief Operations Officer (COO) and the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) and other members of the so-called C suite

What are the CEO’s roles and responsibilities?

The success or failure of an organization hinges on how its CEO responds to uncertain situations. There’s no standard list of roles and responsibilities that they must follow. CEOs of smaller companies may be required to engage in day-to-day decision making. In large corporations, they are expected to perform as the final decision-maker and high-level strategist, focusing on with large-scale business projects and their overall impact on a company’s profitability and success. Deliverables against those objectives are delegated to department or group heads. 

However, a typical CEO performs the following:

  1. Serves as the public face of the company, representing the organization and communicating its vision and business objectives to stakeholders and the public. 
  2. Leads the planning, development, and execution of the organization’s strategies, vision, mission, and short- and long-term goals. 
  3. Advised by the C suite and the board of directors, then answerable to the company owners or shareholders for both major decisions and ongoing health and performance of the company.
  4. Connects with other companies, shareholders, governments, regulatory agencies, the media, and communities at large as the company’s key public figure.
  5. Acts as a thought leader within the company’s business category 
  6. Protects the interests of the company, investors, and stakeholders when forming striking business deals and making tough decisions. 

How does a CEO relate with the board, CIO, CFO, and COO?

There exists an important balance of power between the board and the CEO. In most businesses, the CEO has both the responsibility and the authority needed to manage and lead the organization to achieve its business goals and objectives. The board provides support, advice, and approval on the critical decisions the CEO is to make. Both protect the interests of investors, and in setting the overall direction of the company. 

Outside the boardroom, the CFO helps the CEO create financially sound business strategies; while the COO ensures the organization’s operational capability in executing the plans moving forward. Other leadership-level (or C-level) positions may be created within a company depending on how the board and CEO decide to structure top management. Positions like Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), and Chief Revenue Officer may be needed. 

Read more on the key responsibilities of the Chief Information Officer has in driving a company’s tech infrastructure and digital transformation at CIOInsight.

What are the challenges of being a CEO?

Making tough decisions that might disappoint supporters and stakeholders is one of the top challenges that CEOs face. It’s a delicate act of balancing different interests, stakes, priorities, and timing. 

CEO’s must have a long-term vision for the company, while establishing the right rhythm to implement change in the organization. Or, when the company is facing a crisis that has implications beyond business, such as the social and political environment, it tests the CEO’s mettle.

Kelvene Requiroso
Kelvene Requiroso
Kelvene Requiroso is a writer and an enthusiast interested in the interplay between technology and everyday life. He writes for TechnologyAdvice, Baseline, eSecurity Planet, and Webopedia. Also a lover of science fiction and fantasy, he publishes an ongoing web novel series. He has previously worked with non-profits and non-government organizations in Manila, Philippines.

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