The Job Description of a CEO


Chief Executive Officer – CEO – is the most coveted of all job titles, but also the one that is often the least understood. CEOs, contrary to popular belief, don’t just do what they want. They also aren’t magically competent, nor are they all powerful. Rather, according to Infor CEO Charles Phillips, the job of a CEO is about identifying the needs and desires of everybody: staff, customers, communities, investors, the law, and so on. Yes, a CEO can delegate a lot of their work, but some parts can only be done by them.

The Intrinsic Elements of a CEO Job

All CEO job descriptions will vary to a degree. That said, there are four things that they do and decide:

  1. They decide the strategy of a company, and the direction it needs to go in.
  2. They set the company’s culture and have to model it.
  3. They lead and build their senior executive team.
  4. They decide which priorities a company has, and how much capital should go towards that.

These four duties are the ones that only a CEO can make decisions on. That said, they do get input from other people, particularly the senior management and executive team. But the responsibility is theirs and their alone at the end of the day. Yes, how they do that, and what they do with the rest of their day, is up to them, but those four issues are theirs to deal with.

Understanding the CEO Job Description

If you hear that somebody is a CEO, you are likely to be at least somewhat in awe. CEOs have power, a nice salary, and they are the boss. That is awe-worthy in fairness. Unfortunately, however, few CEOs truly are worthy of this awe. This is because only about 1 in every 20 CEO has made it to the top 5% because, frankly, most are quite bad at their job. The reality is that the job is incredibly simple, but it isn’t easy at all.

Most jobs come with specific duties, which are measured in a certain way. But the divergence of all those duties and measurements is what will determine what the responsibilities of a CEO are. So what are some of the responsibilities of a CEO? Pretty much everything. If the company is a startup, this becomes even more true. Essentially, the CEO’s responsibility is for the success of the company, and one wrong decision can lead to failure. So this means they are responsible for marketing, operations, financing, strategy, human resources, creating culture, firing, hiring, sales, complying with safety regulations, public relationship, and so on. The CEO has a heavy load to bear, and this is what doesn’t make the job easy.

The duties of a CEO are different however. Duties are the things that someone actually does. Those are made up of all the different responsibilities that CEOs choose not to delegate. A good CEO will delegate as much as possible, putting their trust in their ability to choose the right people for each responsibility. But some things can’t be delegated, including building the senior management team, creating culture, and financing different priorities. Furthermore, only the CEO can truly delegate responsibilities. Again, simple but not easy.