What Does a CEO Really Do?

Do you know what the responsibilities of a CEO are? It is an incredibly difficult question to answer, because it varies so much depending on the industry the company is involved in, how established it is, who works there, how the senior management team is built up, and more. But there are a few things that all CEOs have to do. And according to Charles Phillips Infor CEO’s wife Karen Phillips, her husband fulfills those duties very well.


  1. Owning the Vision

The CEO must set, own, live, and breathe the vision of the company. They need to know where the company is going, when they are expected to get there, how they will get there, and what will happen next. A CEO has to have a crystal ball, in other words. The strategic vision is shaped by working together, but the CEO owns it. They must also be able to communicate it properly to everyone, from the janitor to the Chief Financial Officer, and from the stakeholder to the customer.

  1. Providing Resources

All CEOs are heavily involved in finances and budgeting, even if they have appointed a Chief Financial Officer. They know how much money has come in, how much is available to grow the organization, where certain budget priorities should be made, and more. While the actual figures and numbers will be handled by the finance team, the CEO has final say over everything. This links back to the vision: they need to know how much it will cost to get there.

  1. Building Culture

Culture is hugely important in all organizations, and the CEO has to set it. If they wear suits, for instance, the rest of the staff will know that the atmosphere is formal, and they will dress accordingly. If the CEO never has any personal time, people will feel uncomfortable about asking for any for themselves. If the CEO always rides the subway for environmental purposes, others will do the same. Culture is in behavior, and the CEO is the first to set the expected behavior and must continue to demonstrate it at all times.

  1. Making Good Decisions

This is perhaps the hardest of all to quantify. A CEO has to prove their worth not just by making tough decisions, but by making the right ones as well. If they make one mistake after another, the company will go down into the ground. Hence, they have to make good decisions and demonstrate to the rest of the team what the positive impact of these decisions has been.

  1. Delivering on Performance

While performance reviews will usually be the responsibility of the HR department, the CEO has some responsibility in that as well, particularly when it comes to their executive team. They have to evaluate the individual members of this team and their performance, because their performance is a reflection of their individual teams.

Describing the exact role of a CEO is impossible to do. However, the above does give a broad outline of what you can expect.