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Overview of Role of Chief Executive

The chief executive officer is the most important role in the management of an organization. This topic in the library does not go into great detail about each of the particular systems and practices managed by the chief executive officer because those systems and practices are explained in depth across many of the other topics in this library. This library topic provides sufficient overview for the reader to gain basic perspective on the typical roles and responsibilities of the chief executive officer and how those responsibilities are typically met.

Sections of This Topic Include

Gaining Broad Perspective on Role of Chief Executive Officer

What is the "Chief Executive Officer"? (includes definition and major roles of position)
What Do Chief Executive Officers Do? (includes major functions and example job descriptions)

Core Areas of Knowledge and Skills Required by Chief Executive Officers

Basics in Management and Leadership
Coordinating Activities/Resources (including performance management)

Special Topics

CEO Development
Evaluating the CEO
Transitioning to New CEO (detailed procedure, contracts, etc.)
Other Miscellaneous Topics (board relations, executive pay, etc.)

Founder's Syndrome

This syndrome occurs when the organization operates according to the personality of someone in the organization (usually the founder) rather than according to the mission of the organization. The Chief Executive Officer can make a big difference in helping an organization to detect Founder's Syndrome and recover from the Syndrome.
Founder's Syndrome -- How Organizations Suffer -- and Can Recover

Also consider
Related Library Topics

What is the "Chief Executive Officer"?

A "Definition"

The definition of "chief executive officer" (almost always) depends on whether a business is a corporation or not, that is, whether it (usually) has a board of directors or not. In an organization that has a board of directors, the "chief executive officer" is (usually) the singular organizational position that is primarily responsible to carry out the strategic plans and policies as established by the board of directors. In this case, the chief executive reports to the board of directors. In a form of business that is usually without a board of directors (sole proprietorship, partnership, etc.), the "chief executive officer" is (usually) the singular organizational position (other than partnerships, etc.) that sets the direction and oversees the operations of an organization.

Major Roles of the Position of Chief Executive Officer

The following link references the major roles carried out by the typical chief executive officer.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Chief Executive

Position Can Have Various Titles

This organizational position, whether in corporations or not, is also sometimes called the President, Executive Director, Chief Administrator, etc. Information in this topic will use the phrase "Chief Executive Officer".

What Do Chief Executive Officers Do?

Typical Responsibilities

The following link references a listing of the broad responsibilities of the typical position of chief executive officer.
Typical Responsibilities of Corporate Chief Executive Officer (nonprofit or for-profit)

Job Descriptions

The following links reference additional overviews of the general responsibilities of a chief executive, including listing of those responsibilities in job descriptions.

"Generic" Job Description

Roles and Responsibilities

Job Descriptions of Nonprofit CEOs

Thanks to Betsey M. Noble, Internet Research Librarian, Global Employment Solutions, Inc., for the following:
CEO Job Descriptions in Non-Profit Organizations
Sample Nonprofit Executive Director Position Description
TheCEO Role in Associations Nonprofit Job Description Toolkit Job Description for Nonprofit Executive Director

Job Descriptions of For-Profit CEOs

The CEO Job Description
The CEO Job Description
What do CEOs do? A CEO Job Description

Core Areas of Knowledge and Skills Required by Chief Executive Officers

The chief executive officer is the overall, primary management and leadership role in the organization. Therefore, it's critical that chief executive officers have strong knowledge and skills in a wide variety of areas. However, there are certain basic areas of knowledge and skills which provide the foundation from which chief executive officers can add knowledge and skills customized to the particular nature of their organization, its industry (service, manufacturing, wholesale, etc.) and the current environment (political, social, economic and technological).

Basics in Management and Leadership

Managing Yourself
core skills in managing/a>
Core Competencies for Leading
Boards of Directors


Business Planning (plan a new business organization, product, business department, etc.)
Strategic Planning (establish organizational goals and how to reach them)


Human Resources Management
Organizing Staff
Organizing Various Types of Groups
Organizing a New Business (whether for-profit or nonprofit)
Guidelines to Reorganize a Current Organization


Leading Other Individuals
Leading Groups
Leading Organizations

Coordinating Activities and Resources (including performance management)

Ethics Management Systems
Finances (For-Profit) or
Finances (Nonprofit)
Fundraising (For-Profit) or
Fundraising (Nonprofit)
Employee Performance Management
Group Performance Management
Guidelines, Methods and Resources for Organizational Change Agents
Organizational Performance Management
Policies and Procedures
Product/Service Management
Program Management
Marketing and Promotions and Public and Media Relations
Systems Thinking

Special Topics

CEO Development

Leadership Development Planning
Management Development
Seven Surprises for New CEOs

Evaluating the CEO (Typically Referred to as "Executive Director" if Nonprofits)

Guidelines for Evaluating the Chief Executive
Sample Form to Use During Evaluation of Chief Executive
Sample of a Board's Supervisory Skills Development Plan for CEO
The Dreaded E.D. Evaluation!
How Can I Get My Board to Evaluate Me?
Founder's Syndrome (when the top executive is a poor manager)
Time for the CEO or Executive Director's Annual Performance Review by the Board
Firing the Executive Director

Transitioning to New CEO (including use of contracts)

Hiring / Transitioning to a New Chief Executive
Succession Planning
Contracts for Nonprofit Executives
CEO Contracts
Meatloaf or Tartare?

Also consider
Succession Planning

Other Miscellaneous Topics

Founder's Syndrome (when the top executive is ineffective manager)
CEO Education, CEO Turnover, and Firm Performance
Results of New Daring to Lead Study on Nonprofit Leadership – What a Board Should Know
Executive Remuneration – A View from the UK

Learn More in the Library's Blogs Related to the Role of Chief Executive

In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to the Role of Chief Executive. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section "Recent Blog Posts" in the sidebar of the blog or click on "next" near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

Library's Leadership Blog
Library's Supervision Blog

For the Category of Leadership:

To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

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