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CEO Job Description – What Does a CEO Do?

A CEO job description encompasses a vast number of responsibilities that are tough to narrow down to a discrete list. In this article I’ll focus on some of the key aspects of the job and what it takes to be the leader of an organization.

The role of Chief Executive Officer comes with a great deal of responsibility and expectation. It is a role that can be diffcult for some people to handle, so it goes without saying that being the CEO of a company is not for everyone. The mindset, demeanor and ability of a potential CEO to deal with stress can have a profound impact on one’s ability to take on a position of this magnitude.

I found a great video that helps breakdown the fundamentals of being a CEO. Take a moment to watch the video (it’s just over a minute long) and then we’ll come back to some of the things that were discussed.

The speaker in the video is Dr. David Furse from Vanderbilt University  He has more than 30 years of experience as a business entrepeneur and strategy consultant. He has also spent large part of his career teaching as a professor in marketing.

The Three Jobs of a CEO

As David mentions in the video, a CEO basically has three jobs. This may seem a bit oversimplified, but as I mentioned it can be difficult to narrow down a CEO job description to specific, minute details. These three jobs apply to both the corporate and healthcare sectors.

The three jobs that David mentions are as follows:

  • Chief strategy officer of the organization or firm
  • Chief human relations officer
  • Chief investment officer

Let’s cover these in a bit more detail.

Chief Strategy Officer

steve jobs ceo descriptionEvery successful company has a leader who can create a vision and guide his employees toward that vision. Without someone who has this ability you end up falling behind the competition and into irrelevance. This immediately brings to mind the struggles that Kodak has had with the rise of digital photography.

The strategy of the company is extremely important to its success. Without a firm strategy you end up with incomplete or half-baked products that consumers will not want.

elon musk ceoIf you’re looking for an example of a CEO who had not only the ability to create a vision for his company but also the ability to make that vision a reality, look no further than Steve Jobs.

Another CEO that I have a great deal of respect for is Elon Musk. He is a co-founder of the very successful Paypal, as well as the founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors. If you need a little inspiration watch Elon’s All Things D interview.

Chief Human Relations Officer

Having a vision and a strategy is incredibly important, but that won’t get a CEO very far if he or she cannot relate to the employees. David mentions that it’s also important to bring in the type of people who can carry the company toward its goals.

Having the right people on board is incredibly helpful to a CEO. It’s not possible for the Chief Executive to carry the company on his or her own, so the ability to communicate and relate to lower-level leaders is imperative for success.

The CEO won’t necessarily spend a lot of time doing what most people would refer to as “work”. When most people think of work, sitting in front of a computer and doing paperwork all day comes to mind. However, the CEO will need to spend most of his time in meetings with individuals inside and outside of the company. This builds relationships and helps the Chief Executive promote his vision and mission.

Chief Investment Officer

warren buffettInvestments in an organization allow it to grow and improve capabilities that are focused on building competitive strengths. In addition, investments are meant to provide value to the organization both in terms of financial benefits and efficiency improvements.

If you’re looking for a good example of a Chief Investment Officer, look no further than Warren Buffett.

It is the job of the CEO to sort through and prioritize investments that will help the organization meet its objectives. Sometimes this means that risks must be taken, and it’s imperative that the CEO make the best decision based on the information that he or she has.

Investments are made both inside and outside of the organization. Internal investments may be focused on capital acquisitions and investments in staff. Outside investments may come from donors or large firms looking to get in on the action of the business. Either way, the CEO must be able to balance and manage every type of investment and communicate the value of that investment to the rest of his leadership team and the organization.

The Bullet-List CEO Job Description

For those of you who won’t be satisfied without a bullet list describing the job of a CEO, I’ve created one below to meet your demands. Keep in mind that this list does not cover every responsibility of a CEO, but it should be a good starting point.

CEO Responsibilities List

  • Establish goals and direction for the organization
  • Create alignment among upper-level leadership
  • Build strong business relationships both inside and outside the organization
  • Keep track of detailed financial analysis data
  • Promote and advocate for the organization
  • Bridge the gap between the Board and employees
  • Track competition and make adjustments as needed
  • Prepare organization for future change
  • Create policies and planning recommendations
  • Oversee general day-to-day operational activities
  • Manage human and financial resources

I hope this CEO job description has been helpful for you. If you have further questions please don’t hesitate to post a comment below.