What Exactly Does a CEO Do Anyway?

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An engineer engineers.

A marketer markets.

A salesperson sells.

A finance professional finances.

A CEO... "CEOs"???

Unlike all other roles in a company, the word “CEO” is not a function.

There is no CEO department.

The engineer thinks about how to engineer a solution to a problem.

A marketer thinks about how to market a product to a target customer.

A salesperson thinks about how to sell a deal to a particular account.

A CEO doesn’t think about any of this.

The CEO has two primary roles:

1) What

2) Who

The CEO decides on what is important enough for the company to focus on.

Then the CEO decides who should get the “what” done.

What... and who... these are the principle things CEOs focus on.

The first is strategy.

Strategy is the setting of priorities and allocating resources to pursue those priorities.

The second is people management.

It involves recruiting the right people, assigning them to the right projects, and managing their performance.

An engineer is good at engineering.

A marketer is good at marketing.

A salesperson is good at selling.

A CEO is good at... deciding.

This is THE skill that a CEO is good at.

Most everyone likes the idea of being “the boss,” having authority, and possessing power.

However, few aspiring CEOs devote themselves to working on their craft... the ability to decide.

Many aspiring actors today want to be famous, but don’t want to devote themselves to honing the craft of acting.

Just like engineering, sales, or marketing, deciding is a skill-set in and of itself.

If you bet the company on the wrong market, the company fails.

If you identify the winning strategy, but assign the wrong person to lead it, the strategy fails.

I’m starting up a new series of essays on what it takes to become an effective CEO. If you’d like me to email these essays to you, please complete the form below and I will include you in the emails.

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