CEO Duties

Four Responsibilities A CEO Cannot Delegate (and why)

Here is a guest post from friend and HeadwayExec colleague Keith Okano. You can read more of Keith’s work on his blog at ClosingStrong.com


One of the most common tasks I have is to help a CEO in writing their own job description. Since they work in a variety of industries and possess diverse talents and strengths, much of the job description is different for each individual. But there are four responsibilities essential to a CEO’s job description and which only the CEO can do.

CEO Duties
CEO Duties

The four non-delegable responsibilities are culture, vision, strategy, and CEO sales (from my experience, this is not what most CEO’s immediately think).

  1. Culture. Culture defines who the company is – or in other words, its character. This includes its values, ethics and expectations. It is the way you expect every employee, starting with yourself, to think, speak, and behave. Embracing culture is a must for promotion. And lack of compliance a reason for dismissal. A strongly defined culture is essential for Collin’s “flywheel” as described in “Good to Great”.
  2. Vision. Vision is the where and why for your company. It is the company’s manifest future defined in terms that everyone can understand. It is the charter that empowers your team to utilize all of their creativity, intellect, and other resources to pursue this destiny. Name it and claim it!
  3. Strategy. Strategy defines the what, how and when. A strategy defines how the company will progress from its current position to the one described by the vision. Not to be confused with the notorious 200-page document, a strategy might be recorded in a single-page. It is not the strategic plan; it is the basis for the plan. Add budget, milestones, execution, and timeline to create the appropriate sized strategic plan for the organization. Please delegate the creation of the strategic plan.
  4. CEO Sales. Everyone knows there are things that can only be sold by the CEO. Absolutely correct! But they are not the company’s products or services. The CEO is the only one who can sell the company’s culture, vision and strategy to all of its stakeholders, from employees and suppliers, through customers and owners, forming the types of relationships essential to trusted partnerships.

All of these responsibilities can only credibly belong to the CEO, and their implementation essential to guide the organization. If you do NOT have all four defined and in place, it is more than likely that you are not the CEO, you are the “Answer Man.”

If you would like assistance in how to write a CEO job description, or to how to right-size the implementations of these responsibilities for your organization, I’m happy to help. Just contact me by clicking here.

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“The one thing I have learned as a CEO is that leadership at various levels is vastly different. When I was leading a function or a business, there were certain demands and requirements to be a leader. As you move up the organization, the requirements for leading that organization don’t grow vertically; they grow exponentially.”

— Indra Nooyi