What is a CEO?

The role of Chief Executive Officer is a complex one. So what exactly does the CEO do? Here, Chief Executive discusses the CEO's role, supporting characters, and management styles.

Definition: What is a Chief Executive Officer (CEO)?

A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the leader of a company, the highest ranking officer in an organization, and the person who makes the final management decisions. The CEO decides on strategies, technologies, and chooses which risks to take and which risks to avoid.  There are other executives to provide support to the CEO, but he/she has ultimate responsibility for managing the company’s finances and operations. The CEO also acts as a liaison with the board of directors and sometimes serves on the board itself.

What is a CEO Responsible For?

  1. Assess company’s health
  2. Formulate the company’s mission and strategy
  3. Communicate mission and strategy to employees
  4. Manage executive team and work with the board of directors to execute overall strategy

What is a CEO Support Staff?

The CEO is supported by other officers in the “C-Suite” – these supporting figures are the Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

What is a CEO Management Style?

Is there a normal CEO temperament? No. There are as many CEO management styles as there are personalities, and each has its strengths and weaknesses.  Chief Executive named eight different types of CEOs in this article, Management Styles: Finding and Fixing Your Achilles Heel. Here they are:

1. The Iconoclast
  • This type of leader is an entrepreneur or visionary who is successful while breaking conventional rules
  • Example: Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
2. The Celebrity
  • These leaders are as well known – if not more so – than the companies they head
  • Example: Ron Perelman, Revlon
3. The Cult CEO
  • A leader who embodies the spirit – and therefore the brand – of the company he or she leads
  • Example: Steven Jobs, Apple
4. The Daredevil
  • This type of leader takes both personal and company risks
  • Example: Mark Hurd, Former CEO of HP
5. The Executor
  • This type of CEO puts business results before people
  • Example: Angela Braly, WellPoint
6. The Father Figure
  • Often also the company’s founder, this type of leader is paternal
  • Example: Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway
7. The Globalist
  • This type of leader runs a multinational company with operations in many countries
  • Example: Akio Toyoda, Toyota
8. Plain Vanilla
  • This type of leader is not flashy and focuses on shareholders
  • Example: Reuben Mark, Colgate Palmolive

Who is a CEO?

Here is a list of some famous CEOs from recent history:

  • A.G. Lafley – Procter & Gamble
  • Alan Mulally – Ford Motor Company
  • Bill Gates – Microsoft
  • Eric Schmidt – Google
  • Howard Schultz – Starbucks
  • Hugh Grant – Monsanto
  • Indra Nooyi – Pepsi
  • Jack Welch – General Electric
  • Jeff Bezos – Amazon
  • Jeff Immelt – General Electric
  • Larry Page – Google
  • Lloyd Blankfein – Goldman Sachs
  • Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook
  • Michael Dell – Dell Inc.
  • Rupert Murdoch – News Corporation
  • Steve Ballmer – Microsoft
  • Steven Jobs – Apple
  • Warren Buffet – Berkshire Hathaway

What is a CEO? Sources and Additional Resources:


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