We all have a sense that the Chief Executive Officer is the top spot of an organization. Whether it’s a small business or a multi-national firm, the CEO is the guy or gal at the top of the org chart.

But what are the general duties of that particular position? Certainly, as President Truman once said, “it’s where the buck stops” since he was big on taking responsibility when he was the top exec of the country.

The CEO may also interact with other “Chief” positions in an organization, such as the Chief Financial Officer, Chief Technology Officer, and Chief Operating Officer. If an organization also is managed by a board of directors, the CEO might be a board member, might be the chairperson himself of herself.

Or in some organizations, a CEO is responsible to a board and isn’t allowed a seat. This helps preserve balance and can improve stability for an organization rather than the responsibilities being focused on one person.

This still doesn’t necessarily answer the question of “what is a CEO?” but other duties often include:

  • Build and grow relationships. He or she is encouraged to go forth and network. This could include being part of service clubs and community events. It could include higher-level networking like working with elected officials. Think of a CEO as an ambassador for an organization that is expected and encouraged to spread goodwill, negotiate, and be a figurehead.
  • Define a vision. This is a tricky subject to define, but a CEO is charged with making a company’s philosophy become real. This can be done through actions, words, policies, and more. CEOs are often hired who share similar views or have ideas on how this vision can be advanced forward.
  • Synthesize info. Thinking of the CEO as the quarterback of the corporate team, his or her tasks should include bringing together details from around all the company, making sense of them, and making things happen.
  • Set a tone. However a CEO performs, and acts go all through the way through the company and into the public view.

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