Happiest Company

What Is a CEO and What Do They Do?

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By David Tomas, on 4 November 2021

Within any company–not just those in the marketing industry–the CEO has the greatest responsibility.

The role of the CEO is to ensure the company is performing well and that the employees are happy and productive. Great leadership translates into a great corporate culture and better productivity. Conversely, bad leadership can create a toxic environment and harm employee performance

Let's take a look at what exactly a CEO is, the responsibilities that come with the role, and how the CEO fits within the broader context of a marketing company's structure.

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What Is a CEO and What Do They Do

What Is a CEO?

The term CEO stands for Chief Executive Officer. This position has the highest authority in the management and administrative direction of a company, organization, association, or institution.

The CEO is responsible for planning and executing the overall strategy of the company and introducing changes when necessary. For example, the CEO must take the initiative when it comes to planning the digital transformation of a company or adapting to market changes.

In short, the CEO is responsible for making decisions that could lead to the success or failure of the company.

The CEO in the Corporate Organization Chart

Contrary to popular belief, the CEO is not at the very top of a company's organizational chart. He or she typically reports to the President or the Board of Directors.

The difference between a CEO and a President is that the President usually assumes an advisory role and chairs board meetings, but is not usually actively involved in day-to-day operations and ongoing decision-making like the CEO.

It is also important to distinguish between the CEO and the owner of the company. In some cases, like in startups, it is quite common for the owner, founder, and CEO to be the same person, but this is not always the case. For example, the current CEO of Microsoft is Satya Nadella, but the owners and founders are Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

Other Key Management Positions

The CEO is part of a C-Suite team that consists of several positions with the highest responsibility in different areas of the company. The typical counterparts to a CEO are:

  • CMO: Chief Marketing Officer
  • CIO: Chief Information Officer. In some companies, this acronym means Chief Innovation Officer.
  • COO: Chief Operating Officer
  • CTO: Chief Technology Officer (also known as CIO)
  • CFO: Chief Financial Officer

What Are the CEO's Functions?

Let's take a closer look at the main day-to-day responsibilities of a CEO.

  • Convey the company's goals, mission, and vision. A good CEO is not only in charge of strategic tasks, but must also be able to communicate the purpose and value of the company to the rest of the team members.
  • Conduct strategic planning. Together with the president and the board of directors, the CEO defines the company's objectives and is responsible for ensuring that they are properly achieved. He or she, hand in hand with the rest of the C-suite team, is dedicated to planning the necessary actions to take to meet these objectives.
  • Make the main decisions on investments and budgets, along with the financial director, in order to manage resources and fulfill the company's objectives.
  • Manage and motivate the team. Another of the main tasks of the CEO is to communicate well. He or she has to be able to convey the importance of the tasks carried out by the company and foster a spirit of cooperation and camaraderie.
  • Caring for customers. Customer satisfaction is one of the most fundamental indicators of a company's performance. If customers are satisfied, it will be much easier to build customer loyalty and generate a stable source of income. The CEO must ensure that the company's actions put the customer at the center and are adapted to the different profiles or buyer personas.
  • Hold regular meetings with the president and the executive board to inform them about the company's situation and implement their feedback.
  • Coordinate the rest of the management team. Marketing, finance, operations, etc. they all have to operate in unison to achieve results, and getting them to do so is part of the CEO's job.

What Skills Should a CEO Have?

The CEO position is the most demanding within a company, and as such, the person who holds the title must be highly qualified. These are the most important skills a CEO should have.

  • Communication. As pointed out earlier, a large part of the CEO's job is to communicate. He or she must be able to communicate with the president and the board, the rest of the management team, employees. He or she must also make sure they all understand the company's mission and are operating in unison to realize it.
  • Decision-making. One of the main characteristics of the CEO position is that this person makes key decisions about the direction of the company. He or she must therefore be able to base these decisions on thorough research, choose the best path forward after taking multiple factors into account, and be accountable for any failures.
  • Adapting to change. Technology and the market are constantly changing, especially since the emergence of the internet and globalization. A CEO can face all kinds of changing situations, from accelerated growth of the workforce to a digital transformation process or the opening of a foreign market. They must therefore be flexible and able to help their team adapt.
  • Team management. The CEO is largely responsible for the work environment and culture of the organization. He or she has to be able to deal with people well, trust employees, and support them in doing their best.
  • Industry knowledge. The CEO is not a technical specialist but must be able to understand all the key aspects of the sector in which they works and have a thorough understanding of the market and trends.
  • Innovation and creativity. In a globalized and competitive market, it is necessary to stand out from the competition with a unique offer. Creativity also helps in adapting quickly to changes and emerging victorious from crises.
  • Good attitude towards technology. A CEO who is stuck in the past can weigh their company down and set it up for failure. It is imperative to be willing to learn about new tools constantly and to guide your team through a digital transformation.

The Evolution Of The CEO: The Chief Empathy Officer

According to Jack Welch, an expert in leadership, there is surely nothing worse in the business world than working for a boss who inhibits your ability to succeed.

Today, there are two types of CEOs. The first is the typical "boss" who is detested by his employees. This person lacks flexibility and the ability to encourage productive dialogue. He or she works in a closed office, is not possible to reach without going through their assistant, and is distant from the rest of the team. Fortunately, this figure is becoming a thing of the past.

Enter the CEO of the future, who leaves authoritarianism behind and focuses on fostering the strengths of his or her team. This person is an empathy-savvy CEO and possesses these skills.

  • Mentors employees. He or she knows each member of the team well, works closely with them, and helps them reach their full potential.
  • Listens actively and offers constructive criticism. It is said that an empathetic person should be able to listen 80% of the time. Instead of lecturing and focusing on things like annual reviews, the CEO of the future listens to the team's opinions and offers continuous feedback.
  • Practices humility. No matter what position a person holds within a company, the greatest virtue they should possess is knowing their limitations and weaknesses and being transparent about them with others.
  • Enhances strengths. A good CEO knows the strengths of his or her team members and pushes them to discover their full potential. He or she assigns tasks that match their qualities and preferences.
  • Aligns teams with the company's mission. The CEO tries to ensure that his or her company has a clear purpose that always remains at the core of every action or decision. When building teams, he or she makes sure to communicate the company's values so that all teams are empowered to act together.

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David Tomas