What Should a CEO Do?
I was recently asked by an investor for one of my clients, “What does the CEO do?” Rather than answer the question about the current CEO, I began thinking about what the CEO should do.
I see it all the time. The everyday tasks end up consuming the CEO’s day, rather than long term, strategic activities. I see it with controllers, bookkeepers and possibly all workers. It is often easier, and more comfortable to do the quick hitter kinds of activities. We know how to do the activity and we can do it rather quickly, knocking one more thing off our “to do” list. The problem is the activities often will not help a company move forward. Many of the activities are necessary, but they cannot be done at the expense of the strategic activities.
When I considered the question, “What should the CEO be doing?” this was my short list. I realize this is not a comprehensive list, but it is a good start.
- Set Strategic Direction:
The CEO of a company needs to define the strategic direction of the company. They need to paint a picture that stretches the staff to go above and beyond. They need to look at all the risks and opportunities and define where the company will go, with that in mind. If the CEO does not do this, the competition will.
- Coordinate Staff:
The CEO has the main responsibility for coordinating all activities amongst the staff. There are often at least three main functions in the smaller companies – if not more: Sales, Operations and Administration. Processes need to be in place to facilitate communication and coordination amongst these staffs. This can be through staff meetings or some other type of communication. In addition, the CEO needs metrics to be able to measure the success of each of the staffs. These measures should target the key cost and revenue drivers. In addition, targets should be set up for the measures that align with the vision. The entire staff should review the status monthly or quarterly to see how they are doing at meeting their targets.
- Build Strategic Alliances:
The CEO is in the perfect position to foster alliances with executives in key stakeholder positions. This should include customers, suppliers, future employees and other key groups that strengthen the company. This can take place at lunches, dinners, golf outings, charity events, industry events, etc. Companies need constant contact at the highest level with these groups and the CEO is in the position to build and maintain those relationships.
- Hire and Keep Good Employees:
It is often said that employees are the key to success. The CEO is the primary person who can define who should be on the bus. If a company gets the best people in leadership positions, they will help the CEO define the vision and make it happen. As stated in Good to Great by Jim Collins, “The good-to-great leaders began the transformation by first getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it.”
There are many books written about how to do the above activities, but the first step is to make time to do them.
At B2B CFO® we work with owners and CEOs to free up their time to realize their vision. For a list of partners and additional information about B2B CFO® please go to our website at www.b2bcfo.com.