The role of a CEO (Chief Executive Officer) is to build value. The maturity and nature of different organizations demand different priorities but there are common elements to being a CEO.
- Chess Player – Call it strategy, vision, planning etc, the CEO is able to see the big picture and look beyond the next move. Although they do lots of things such as allocating resources and budgets, arranging financing, removing obstacles, tracking key performance indicators and driving the business forward, their most important role is to look ahead. It is the CEO’s job to be thoughtful; to take time to work “on” the business not “in” the business.
- Chief Talent Manager – Every effective CEO knows their responsibilities start with building the leadership team (ie getting the right people on the bus). Having a high performance leadership team empowers the CEO to delegate and focus on their own job. That approach is instilled throughout a high performance organization.
- Coach – An experienced CEO knows how to motivate different individuals to perform consistently at the highest level. Some people need less help and guidance than others and the CEO adapts their style accordingly.
- Enforcer – Leadership is not a popularity contest and good CEOs make timely, tough decisions and manage conflict. They drive the pace of the business and they hold people, and themselves, accountable for their commitments and actions.
- Culture Icon – The CEO owns the corporate culture and values. If they own the business, then they are the culture. What they say and do is constantly scrutinised so they exemplify the corporate culture.
- Cheerleader – Enthusiasm is infectious and top CEOs are masterful communicators, with good or bad news, inside and outside their organizations, meeting one-on-one or in a presentation.
- Ambassador – Whether it is building relationships with clients, board members, community leaders, or other CEOs, the CEO builds and nurtures a trusted network that fuels growth, identifies opportunities and threats, and provides support to the organization when needed.
There is no one way to be an impactful CEO; people assume the mantle that suits their personal style. Transformative CEOs are charismatic leaders that people want to follow. They know when to engage, when to let the team run itself and how to drive change in the organization. They know their role.
|Tim Redpath runs a leadership development practice with TEC Canada (The Executive Committee) and is a previous chair of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.