CEO definition

Every company needs someone who is in charge. This role falls to the Chief Executive Officer or CEO for short. The individual will be appointed, usually by a board of directors and will be given the responsibility to develop and improve the business while maintaining oversight for the whole company.

CEO definition

What is a CEO?

It’s fair to say that the tasks undertaken by a CEO are not for the faint-hearted. Yes, the CEO has the ultimate say regarding any decision made about the company but they’re also first in the firing line if anything goes wrong. This can make the position of CEO a very stressful one.

Not only do they need to set the strategic vision for their company, but they also need to be prepared to face any challenges as they arise and remain answerable to all stakeholders, staff and customers. However, one person cannot lead a company alone.

A CEO will hire a talented and qualified senior leadership team who can provide specialist skills and assist them in the running of the company. This C-suite of leaders generally includes a COO (Chief Operations Officer) who looks after issues relating to sales, marketing, production and personnel and a CFO (Chief Financial Officer) who reviews and reports on financial performance.

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What does a CEO do?

As the highest ranking executive manager in a business, the CEO is accountable for everything from budgets to business growth. The responsibilities are wide-ranging and include:

  • Developing, communicating, and implementing the company’s vision, mission and strategy.
  • Leading, managing and reviewing the work of the senior leadership team to ensure that the company’s strategic direction is cascaded throughout the business to all levels of employees.
  • Creating a culture which serves to support and unite all employees throughout the company.
  • Maintaining oversight for the whole company to ensure that strategic plans are being adhered to.
  • Evaluating the performance of the company based on its achievement of agreed goals.
  • Representing the company on a local, national and international stage.
  • Taking part in industry-related events to raise awareness of the company.
  • Identifying risks and ensuring that appropriate mitigating actions are in place.
  • Driving the profitability of the company.

The sheer amount of responsibility can make it tough at the top. So much so, that it takes a certain type of person to succeed as a CEO.

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What qualities does a CEO need?

A CEO must possess certain qualities if they’re to be a success. As well as being dedicated and hardworking, there are five top traits that will help a CEO to become a great leader.

  1. Excellent communication skills
    As a leader, a CEO needs to have great communication skills. This means that they must be able to communicate effectively to all levels of employees so that moral can be boosted if needed. To be a success, open and honest communication is imperative. Employees and shareholders will struggle to believe in a CEO if they feel that they’re withholding information. When communicating, a CEO should use strong, simple language so that the audience can easily digest what they’re being told.
  2. Good listening skills
    Communication is a two-way process. As well as being able to deliver messages effectively, a CEO must be good at listening too. They should consistency listen to, and actively seek out the ideas and opinions of others from within the company. This can not only lead to improved solutions to problems being identified but builds a sense of trust and respect within the company.
  3. Skilled at building relationships
    A CEO must be able to build relationships with customers and employees to be successful. Relationships create loyalty and consistency within the company which is good for business.
  4. Empathetic
    A CEO will not gain the respect of their employees if they’re deemed to lack understanding for people’s lives outside of the workplace. Employees will have emergencies that must be dealt with, need to work flexible hours at times and have no choice but to take unplanned leave. A CEO must understand that things happen that can’t be controlled and handle the situation empathetically.
  5. Willing to take risks
    Opportunities can come when a CEO is least expecting them. A strong leader is prepared to take calculated risks if they’re in the interests of the company. Sometimes tough decisions need to be taken by a confident CEO to develop and grow the business.

Why become a CEO?

If the job is so pressurised, then why do so many ambitious individuals aspire to become a CEO? The benefits include:

  • The role is the most senior in a company
  • By creating and driving forward a vision; a CEO can make a real difference to a company
  • The salary, bonuses, profit share and commission can be significant
  • Often travel is expected as part of the role which can enable a CEO to see the world.

The downside of being a CEO

Any CEO will tell you that the rumours of the job being a long line of indulgent lunches and rounds of golf are far from true. There are negatives associated with the role, such as:

  • The role is highly pressurised and stressful
  • The hours can be long and unsociable
  • Ultimate responsibility means that the buck stops with the CEO if things don’t go to plan.

Do you have what it takes to be a CEO?

As a CEO, you’ll be expected to lead by example if you want to gain respect. And despite the long hours and stress that go with the role, you must remain passionate about the company at all times. Especially when things get tough.

You need to be visible across all areas of the company. Not only will this enable you to gain a better understanding of the business as a whole but also demonstrates to all employees that you’re interested in what they do. This will both inspire employees and engender loyalty at all levels.

Finally, you need to be ambitious. Your determination and drive will inspire the whole company which is a great indicator of success.

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