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The CEO Blueprint: Your Guide to Leadership Mastery

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Jagpreet

12 June, 2024

The CEO Blueprint: Your Guide to Leadership Mastery

Diving In: An Introduction

If I ask you to visualise your own business venture, who would be on the team? What will be the responsibilities, and how will they be distributed? Every business demands an organised distribution of responsibilities over a hierarchy in order to function systematically. No business functions solely with a single responsibility. Its responsibilities are multifaceted and require professionals to handle them. These professionals’ skills, knowledge, and qualifications are integral in deciding the work policies that shape the organisation and its position in the market. 

Understanding who is a CEO: The fundamentals

A CEO or a Chief Executive Officer can be understood as the captain of a ship. A ship witnesses multiple experiences from turbulent water currents, makes spontaneous decisions, and looks after the passengers’ safety. Similarly, a CEO is responsible for making critical decisions that impact the organisation and guide its success. Every business holds a vision. It is in the hands of the CEO to guide the organisation toward the ultimate goal or target it aspires to achieve. The company’s employees, stakeholders, and consumers also trust the CEO.  In a nutshell, a CEO 

  • Makes the major corporate decisions for a company

  • Supervises the resource optimisation

  • Guides the company toward their goals

  • Carries out the communication between the board of directors and corporate operations

When you look at any organisation or company, your first question concerns its founder and CEO. They generally serve as the face of their organisation, which people recognise as the accountable speaker for the decisions their company collectively makes. The board and the company’s shareholders elect the Chief Executive Officer. They have to report to the chair and the board. The responsibilities of a CEO also depend on the company profile and type. In the case of a publicly listed company, for example, they have to look into the company’s share prices and focus on improving them. If we talk numbers, studies suggest that the CEO influences 45% of the company’s performance. 

What does a CEO do: Roles and Responsibilities

A Chief Executive Officer’s role would depend on the company, the responsibilities attached to the position, the company size, and corporate culture. Sometimes, when new entrepreneurs begin their start-ups, they become the company’s CEO until they find a reliable professional. Do you think if a company size is large, the CEO single-handedly makes these decisions? Absolutely not; they also have to juggle multiple responsibilities, so they often involve themselves only in the significant decisions that directly impact the company profile or growth. They may look into strategising the resources and how the capital is allocated and distributed across the organisation.

Here is the list of tasks that a Chief Executive Officer is expected to perform- 

  • Strategising the company and its decisions: Every well-organised company follows a hierarchical system. The system can be best represented as a pyramid, broader at the bottom level and narrow as it goes up. Similarly, the interns, clerical staff, and managers in different positions, depending on the company system, would form the bottom level of the pyramid and look into the company’s day-to-day operations. Similar to the IAS officers who work on the ground level, these working professionals also look after the larger goals broken down into small targets that the CEO or other senior officials supervise.

  • Implementation: Every company or business requires a long-term and short-term set of goals to enhance its planning. This is a systematic way of approaching targets. The work is further divided and handed over to professionals who can handle the specific tasks with proficiency. A CEO has to craft these long-term and short-term goals. They also work on executing these goals and ensure that these plans yield the desired results.

  • Public relations: The Chief Executive Officer is often the face of the company. In cases where the founder and the CEO are the same person, it is even more important for them to engage in the public relations aspect to maintain the company’s image. They address the public, their demands, and the media, and this is mainly achieved through media interactions at conferences and by participating in events. The involvement of the Chief Executive Officer also impacts the consumer mentality. It is a game-changer if the CEO is personally involved in the marketing on the company front. This may not be possible for large-scale companies, but for the ones at the relatively smaller level, it is always a cherry on the cake!

  • Interaction: A CEO can be highly qualified and accountable. However, there are multiple other people a CEO has to rely on. This is generally a team of trustworthy and experienced executives. The CEO cannot single-handedly oversee all the operations or every minute grievance of the company. Simply put, the CEO interacts with a limited number of people who manage the miscellaneous responsibilities and, furthermore, help the CEO make an informed decision.

  • Accountability: Becoming a Chief Executive Officer comes with its fair share of responsibilities. The most important aspect of the CEO’s profile is accountability. The board of directors, who are the major decision-makers of the company, heavily rely on the CEO and hold him or her accountable for anything that happens. The CEO is also responsible for providing reports and necessary updates on the company and its strategic plans and, in return, gets feedback while keeping the company in mind.

  • Monitoring: While involved in multiple operations, a Chief Executive Officer is ultimately accountable for the company’s financial conditions. This includes the profit and loss portfolio, the company investments, and more. Additionally, they are also required to monitor the financial and non-financial resources of the company and carefully put them to use to achieve the maximum outcome.

  • Work culture: Would you like to join a company with a questionable work culture? Certainly not! Very soon, the employees of such companies, whether in the creamy layer category or not, leave the job because of the hectic work schedule and the lack of acknowledgement of their contribution. Therefore, the work culture of the environment is essential and is determined by the company CEO. They are responsible for maintaining the work culture to drive the company’s success.

Understanding the key differences between CEO and other titles: 

Title  Role Responsibilities 
CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Highest ranking individual of the company who is responsible for the complete management and makes the important decisions.  Strategic planning, company policies, decision-making, and managing overall operations.
CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Manages the finances of the company. Financial planning, managing financial risks, record-keeping, and financial reporting.
CTO (Chief Technology Officer) Manages the technological concerns of the company. Technology strategy, research and development, IT infrastructure management, innovation.
COO (Chief Operating Officer) Manages the day-to-day functions and operations of the company.  Overseeing daily operations, implementing business strategies, and managing operational processes.
CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) Manages the marketing, strategic, and promotion of the products and services of the company.  Marketing strategy, brand management, market research, advertising, and customer engagement.
CHRO (Chief Human Resources Officer) Manages the Human resource practices of the company. Talent acquisition, employee relations, compensation and benefits, training and development, compliance.
CIO (Chief Information Officer) Manages the information technology and computer systems of the company. IT strategy, data management, IT governance, cybersecurity, and systems integration.
CRO (Chief Risk Officer) Manages, identifies, analyzes, and mitigates internal and external risks of the company, for example, the use of SWOT analysis. Risk management strategy, compliance, crisis management, risk assessment, and mitigation.

Becoming a CEO: what are the ways?

  • Bachelor’s degree: Earning a bachelor’s degree from a recognised university is an essential step. A degree in business administration provides a comprehensive understanding of various business areas like economics, marketing, and financial accounting. On the other hand, an accounting degree focuses on developing a deep understanding of financial statements and regulations. A finance degree is beneficial for identifying and analysing investment opportunities and understanding different financial instruments businesses use. Each of these degrees has advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to evaluate which aligns best with your professional objectives carefully.

  • Get an MBA: MBA degree prepares you for the most important skill- Management. This is the most desirable quality of a candidate who wishes to become the CEO. This helps manage the company on various fronts. Engagement with the media, the public, and the employees within the company also require key management skills. Communication is an essential component of this profile. You need to be skilled at communicating your interests and encourage the team to align those with those of the company and take it forward.

    Yet, pursuing an MBA also entails certain drawbacks. It can be a significant financial investment and demands a considerable amount of time and effort, particularly if you opt for a full-time programme. Moreover, the degree is sometimes viewed as commonplace, potentially failing to set you apart from other candidates. It’s crucial not to perceive it as a guaranteed path to career advancement. If pursuing an MBA is your goal, ensure that your decision is grounded in the right motivations.

  • Work experience and networking: Work experience is a necessary component of any career. Simply completing your education would not be entirely helpful. Today, people value the students who engage in some kind of work experience that would enhance their contribution to the company. They value what the candidate can bring rather than the candidate already knows. While working, you can also begin stretching your network. Meet people who share the same ambition or thoughts as you. Also, try to network with those who don’t. This will broaden your thinking, and you will learn to acknowledge the differences while understanding the diverse perspectives people hold about a single thing.

  • There is no specific roadmap to becoming a CEO. You can become a CEO after years of experience from one company and by joining a different one, or you can also get internally promoted, but what essentially matters is your skill. 

    Key skills: what all you need to become a CEO

    Every established company demands a CEO, from the top-tier companies across different industries, such as Infosys, Reliance, Amul, Google, Amazon, Myntra, and others, to the small start-ups listed as companies that require the job role of a CEO. The CEO also needs to be trustworthy, given the kind of job responsibilities they are expected to carry on their shoulders. Here are some skills a CEO must have in order to handle the multifaceted responsibilities of a company.

    Depending on the company profile and the requirements, the skills vary. However, the most generic skills are the ones mentioned. These are instrumental in guiding the company policies that frame the company image and yield the necessary results. 

    Talking Numbers: What is the salary of a CEO?

    Country  Salary
    India  ₹24,00000 per year
    USA $4,13,881 per year
    Japan ¥11,000,000
    UK £84,843 per year
    Canada $205,314 per year

    Signing off: key takeaways 

    The CEO plays a crucial role in guiding the company’s strategic direction and ensuring efficient management. Although the CEO often represents the organisation, its success is closely linked to the backing of the board, investors, and the wider team. A CEO must balance visionary leadership with operational efficiency, navigating complex challenges and capitalising on opportunities to achieve sustainable growth. Their capacity to adapt, innovate, and communicate effectively is key to the company’s long-term success and resilience.

    A CEO handles multiple responsibilities and, therefore, must master the skill of multitasking. Above all, strong communication skills, relationship building, networking, negotiation, and a good public image always contribute to the positive image of the CEO and the company. 

    FAQs

    Q1. Is the CEO also the owner of the company? 

    The CEO is responsible for overseeing the company’s entire management, whereas the owner holds a sole proprietorship. While it’s possible for the CEO also to be the owner, the owner is not required to be the CEO. These roles have both distinct differences and notable similarities.

    Q2. Who is higher than a CEO?

    In many organisations, positions that rank above the CEO include Chairman of the Board, President, and Vice President. In the context of a startup, a startup advisor could be considered, in some respects, as holding a higher position than the CEO.

    Q3. Who is equal to a CEO?

    A Managing Director oversees the daily operations, organisation, or division of a company. In certain countries, the title of Managing Director is synonymous with that of CEO.

    Q4. What is the full form of a CEO?

    CEO stands for Chief Executive Officer 

    Q5. Can a CEO be fired? 

    Usually, a CEO is ousted not because the board has carefully and intentionally decided that a change in leadership is necessary, but rather because investors, worried about underperformance, insist on a change.


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