The CEO’s Number 1 Job
With the role as the transformational leader, the CEO is the chief visionary and company architect. As the visionary of the company this executive has the overall responsibility for the designs of the products or services being offered to customers, the operational plan to move the company forward, and the establishment of the financial and organizational goals and growth plan. Being the chief architect, the CEO is responsible for building the company culture. The CEO is also the chief of motivation creator for the organization. Employees will look to their leader for guidance. A high level of trust is needed between the CEO and the followers. With strong loyalty in place and a positive work environment for the workers, the company is positioned to get the best from the workers.
The CEO is responsible for setting a standard of positive internal human interfaces with the company employees. The different divisions or teams are grouped under functional responsibilities with managers responsible for engineering, research and development, marketing, sales, accounting and finance, the operations organization, and human resources. In addition to these organizations, the top executive will also interface with the board of directors and other stakeholders. The external human interfaces that the CEO must deal with will include customers, vendors and the community at large.
In addition to the human interfaces, this executive will also be responsible for the overall performance of the organization. The business plan, setting the operational strategies and the corporate goals and projections of the company will also be the responsibility of the CEO. The operational goals will include revenue performance targets, operational expenses budgets, earnings results, and market penetration. The overall growth and expansion opportunities will be on the radar of this executive. Although the department heads will be responsible for the measurement of performance, it is the top executive who will review the results and with the teams, assess the situation, and begin to define any corrective actions that might be needed.
The company business plan will include an overall mission statement, the financial and operational projections, and the financial goals. A final important part of this executive’s responsibility may include and exit strategy for the shareholders. A common strategic exercise performed to assess progress is a SWOT analysis focusing on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that the company faces. Mixing this type of analysis with financial performance measurements will begin to answer the questions, “Where are we today? Is the company on track with expectations? Is the execution of the functional tasks occurring on time? Are the strengths and opportunities unfolding as expected? Are the weaknesses uncovered and the threats observed being dealt with adequately?” Outside forces affect the company including competition, customer reactions, new government regulations, the overall economy, and the potentially global pressures.
With all of these responsibilities and tasks before him, the CEO is sometimes the chief worrier also in the company. He has payroll responsibilities; he is focused on shareholder return. He needs to keep his vendors paid, his customers happy, and his team motivated.
I have often thought, however, what is the most important task of the CEO. At the end of the day what does he or she need to do? I have zeroed in on one task that seems to encompass all the many different tasks and responsibilities. I take lead from one of the most famous CEOs of all time, Jack Welch the former CEO of General Electric. Jack said it best, the most important job of the CEO is to WIN!