What is a CEO’s job supposed to be?
We all know the accountabilities and responsibilities of the CFO, COO, CTO, CMO, CHRO etc. because it’s in the title. The Chief Financial Officer is in charge of Finance for the company. Simple and straightforward.
So, what is the Chief “Executive” Officer accountable and responsible for? The executives of the company?
Sure, that’s a part of it, but what about relationships with other stakeholders like investors, customers, suppliers and other employees?
“That’s not the point, Cameron. The CEO is meant to be in charge of the company’s leadership.”
Well, that’s awesome. I would be ecstatic if I saw someone with the title of Chief Leadership Officer. Imagine how far that could take the company if someone’s entire responsibility was taking care of and improving the leadership of a business. But no, it’s Chief Executive Officer. Although leadership is also core to the role, there is more to what a CEO does than leadership and executives.
We all “know” that the main responsibility of a CEO is to sustainably grow a company into the future. So, why isn’t it in their job title? Everyone else at a C-Suite level has their responsibility quite succinctly put in their job title, so why not the C”E”O?
But, isn’t it also the responsibility of ANY executive to contribute to the sustainable growth of the company? I mean, that’s what strategy is for or am I missing something?
So what IS a CEO’s job?
The person at the top is the person we trust with the responsibility of taking the company forward.
The problem is that different stakeholders have different conceptions of “forward”. Most shareholders want short-term financial growth. Most investors want long-term financial growth. Suppliers want closer and more strategic partnerships that generate long-term business. Employees want progressive leadership and employment practices to grow their careers into the future. Consumers want their needs fulfilled by a good corporate citizen.
How can you get one job or one title that can encompass all of the above?
Two words struck me recently and I think they are the best fit: Vision and Impact.
Imagine the job with the most power and authority in the business was completely focusing on the vision of where they want the company to get to and the impact the company makes on the planet and society.
Now imagine we appointed the best person possible to perform that job and gave them everything we could to help them succeed.
I’m not sure about you, but no matter what stakeholder hat I put on I immediately have more confidence in where that company is going.
Call me idealistic if you want to, but I strongly believe that if we changed the priorities at the top, then we would see more sustainable and more inspirational companies.
I think it starts with changing the title at the top.
Chief Vision and Impact Officer.