What is the Role of the CEO?

what is the role of a ceo

In a recent triad meeting with three CEOs of $50 million+ companies, the question, “What is my role, as CEO?” was asked.

Do you every wonder what you should be doing as the leader of your organization?

I had the opportunity to be a student of Dr. Lee Thayer, author of twenty books on leadership, and former professor at Harvard when I earned my Masters of Leadership Arts and Sciences degree. I spent two years studying the CEOs of high-performing organizations–what stood out was their crystal clarity of who they were and what they did as leaders.

Dr. Thayer states, that the roles for CEOs are the following:

  • To master himself or herself in order to play the role superlatively
  • To compose and orchestrate the organization for its destiny
  • To be the exemplary people-maker in the organization
  • To be at all times the meaning-manager for the organization and its people

To elaborate, on each of these roles…

  • The CEO must be the role model for learning, growth, and change. Everyone is watching what you do. Learning=growth and growth=life. The organization will grow at the pace of the leader.
  • The CEO is responsible to ensure that the organization is healthy, both from a financial and a cultural perspective. She determines the direction, vision, and purpose. She creates the best organizational structure and strategy to achieve it. She may get input but the responsibility is hers. One member put it, “The CEO is the conductor of the orchestra, determining the audience, music, and direction.”
  • As the people maker of the organization, the CEO makes sure the right people are on the bus in the right seat and heading in the right direction.
  • Meaning making means that the CEO is the most articulate spokesperson of the organization, communicating the mission, vision, and values inside and outside of the organization. One of the essential practices of the leader is to manage the interpretation of events, or in other words, manage what things mean. As human beings, we are always seeking to understand—it is part of our nature. We see change as a threat most of the time. When we are threatened, we don’t feel safe and don’t operate at our highest level.

The primary role of the CEO is to make sure the organization fulfills its reason for existence.

As Vistage members, these three CEOs are dedicated to learning and growing as their companies grow. If you are a Manhattan CEO passionate about learning and want to find out how other CEOs are getting 3X growth over the national average, let’s have a conversation and see if you qualify to be a Vistage member. You can schedule a time to speak here.