Who is a CEO?
A chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the highest-ranking executive in a company, and his/her primary responsibilities include making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of a company, and acting as the main point of communication between the board of directors and corporate operations. He/she takes part in day today running of the business and executes the policies and decisions of the board of directors. An organisation can have a CEO who is not a director but is engaged to run an organisation. However, where the CEO is also a shareholder and a director, he/she is referred to as the managing director, president or executive director depending with the type of organisation.
Who does the CEO report to?
The CEO reports to the Board of Directors.
What is the work of a CEO?
The responsibility of a CEO is to devise strategies and policies that ensure an organization meets its goals and objectives. His/her primary tasks include making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of a company and acts as a direct liaison between the Board and management of the company and communicates to the Board on behalf of management. He plans, directs, and coordinates operational activities of a company. The CEO sets the vision and mission for the organisation.
SEVEN KEY TRAITS OF A GREAT CEO
- Understand the responsibility of a CEO
CEOs have five key responsibilities, no matter the company’s size, industry or geography. Only the Chief Executive Officer who has a holistic view of the firm can take on these duties:
Own the vision
As the CEO you should determine and communicate the organization’s strategic direction. Until that’s settled, making decisions about anything else at the business is difficult. And without this, the company is merely a collection of people pursuing individual goals, guided by their own values. While other people may help shape the strategic vision, the CEO must be able to describe it in a clear, engaging and exciting way for all stakeholders.
Provide the proper resources
Only the CEO can perform the task of balancing resources, the two most important ones being capital and people. The CEO must make both available in the proper quantities and at the right time for the company to succeed.
Build the culture
Culture is the set of shared attitudes, goals, behaviors and values that characterize a group. It adds up to how things get done in a company and influences the entirety of the employee experience and thus the customer experience. Every organized group of individuals develop a culture, whether it’s explicitly recognized or not and the CEO must constantly observe and be involved to achieve the desired culture.
Make good decisions
A new CEO is often surprised by the breadth of issues confronting him (or her). One minute the CEO is discussing a new product, the next a human resources issue and then along comes a legal issue. It’s impossible for anyone to be an expert in all aspects of the business, yet the CEO is the person tasked with making the decisions. Many problems require a solution that will end up affecting multiple departments, and only the CEO is empowered to take such an action. Everyone else can pass the buck from time to time, but the CEO will make the final call when no one else will or can.
Oversee and deliver the company’s performance
Everyone agrees that the CEO is ultimately responsible for a company’s performance. To be successful, you must take an active role in driving that performance. This requires maintaining a keen awareness of the firm’s industry and market and being in touch with the core business functions to ensure proper execution of tasks.
- Spend extra time learning
For you to make wise decisions for a company a strong base of knowledge in the following fields is advocated for: finance, marketing, accounting, operations, procurement, strategy and human resource management. A great CEO never stops increasing and honing his or her knowledge. He can achieve this by attending seminars, workshops, school, reading etc.
Can one become a great CEO without formal education?
You can of course become a great CEO with only basic formal education. However, you will be required to polish up your skill through on job training.
- Build a good and powerful network
The most successful Chief Executive Officers know that no one ever succeeds alone. You understand how valuable a professional network is in attaining success and achieving personal and professional goals. You should value the relationships you have cultivated over the years. By virtue of your position, you must be on top of what’s occurring in the company at all times, and be able to monitor and assess the financial health of the organization. You should know that a network with the right kind of contacts allows you to accelerate problem-solving and decision-making, and broaden your influence because you have access to private information, diverse thought, and a variety of skills set and power – the right person to connect with in any given situation is just a phone call away. The most successful CEOs are pros at networking and they know how to do it effectively.
As a CEO you should also know that networking is about relationships, so you give before you ask. And because you are super busy, you should understand the power of leveraging your professional network of contacts. For you, it’s not about quantity, but the quality of your contacts. In your networks, you should have a few connectors who can significantly expand your professional reach. You may not attend networking events, but are members of professional groups where you can discuss issues and challenges with your contemporaries.
The ability to network effectively is one of the most powerful tools that you can use to advance in your career. In your already over-scheduled day, learn how to network like CEOs and strategically build your network of contacts – making sure that you are connected to a few connectors to expand your reach. Your best strategy is to cultivate real, deep and enduring relationships over the years – just like a CEO – where you give as much as you take. Be flexible and aim at becoming a star
- Be flexible and aim at becoming a star
Embraces change and understand that change is inevitable. With change in industrial transitions from changing business models to operational spinouts and new customer engagements models and portfolio changes a CEO should find ways to cope with these changes and set strategic directions for the company. The CEO should focus on the mission of the company and always aim to bring out the best performance as compared to other organisations.
- Create a brand that drives your CEO reputation
Far from being a luxury or an exercise in ego, building an executive brand is a requirement in becoming a great CEO. CEO’s have been pre-cast in the role of the company’s chief brand ambassador. For many CEO’s, the key to integrating this into their role is to create a parallel brand. A parallel brand is a perfect blend of the CEO’s personal and company brands. A CEO should also develop a brand statement “I want to be known for…., so that I can deliver…., at work and outside work” and focus on time and behaviour and communication aligned with your CEO brand.
- Rely on past experiences and case studies
Case studies from your own organisation or other organisations and past experiences can be used as a reference to help make informed decisions and formulate strategies which favour the organisations. A CEO should always be open and should be able to know what’s really happening at the intersection of the organisations activities and the market. Using case studies and experiences can help know the expected outcome after making a particular decision or taking a particular course of action.
- Be a team leader with vision
Exercise control over your work place environment to be one that has distinct and palpable culture. Demand the world from your workers but allow them to make mistakes. Show them that the company believes in them, and let them keep trying until they make it and if they are good enough at their jobs they will definitely make it. Advocate for productivity by encouraging risk taking and personal judgment calls. Make it your habit to always be observative and keen on what happens around you in your career line.
About the Author
Thank you for reading this article. The author, James Ndambiri is an avid Business Advisor and Consultant: A Tax Surgeon, Proficient Accountant, Skilled Auditor, a Guru in Financial and Investment management, Expert in Business Strategy Formulation, Business Transformation Wizard, Family Business Advisor, Lecturer, Business Coach and a Family Man.
James is the Founder, Team Leader, CEO & Managing Partner of MNC Consulting Group. MNC Consulting Group is your most trusted and respected professional business consulting firm recognized by our clients for delivering excellent business advisory and consulting services that create value to their ventures. With our focus set on value addition, we offer our clients the highest quality professional services in Accounting, Audit and assurance, Tax, Business Transformation, Investments and Financial Advisory, Family Business Advisory, Company Secretarial Services and Property Management that addresses their business needs through attracting, recruiting and retaining knowledgeable and passionate professionals who enable us to deliver superior results while contributing positively to the community in which we live and work.
Make us your business partner by always consulting with us.
‘‘With us, you are in safe hands’’