6 Key CEO Responsibilities and Important Skills for CEOs

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Becoming a chief executive officer (CEO) allows you to become the leader of a company. This includes several key responsibilities which require specialised skills and knowledge to fulfil. Understanding these responsibilities and the role of a CEO can help you pursue a career path toward an executive position in your field. In this article, we show you what a CEO is, explore six key CEO responsibilities and discuss the salary information of CEOs.

What is a CEO?

A CEO, or chief executive officer, is a leader in a business. The CEO is often one of the founding members of the company and provides leadership for employees, helps develop the business and fulfils many other duties. CEOs work as part of a team to lead the business in its operations and plan for the future.

Read more: What Is a Chief Executive Officer? Plus How To Become One

What are some key CEO responsibilities?

A CEO typically acts as the head of a company and reports to the board of directors. CEOs create and execute business strategies, introduce policies and ensure the organisation reaches its goals. Here are six key CEO responsibilities explained:

1. Managing the company's operations

CEOs typically manage the company's basic operations and growth strategy. This can include meeting with directors and board members to discuss business performance and viability and overseeing new training programs, product development and marketing strategies. The CEO typically oversees a company's operations through a network of managers and a strong chain of command, where the CEO is at the top of the reporting structure.

Related: What Is a Chief Technology Officer and What Do They Do?

2. Overseeing the company's budget

CEOs often assist the company's CFO, or chief financial officer, with managing the business's finances. This includes things like budgeting for expenses, finding capital for improvements or expansions, and keeping shareholders satisfied. CEOs typically have at least basic business finance knowledge and understand how to run a business and manage sizeable sums of money for the company. They also often make the final decision on any major financial changes or improvements to the company.

3. Working with other executives and managers

As the company's leader, the CEO typically collaborates with a team of other managers and executives to create a leadership team. This includes coaching others, overseeing management training and brainstorming with managers and executives. It may also include serving as a consultant for business operations and ideas.

4. Approving contracts

Many of a business's contracts require CEO approval before they're confirmed. CEOs review new contracts to ensure they meet the best interests of the company and to ensure the contracts align with the company's vision and budget. CEOs often review contracts directly or meet with other executives and managers to vote on new contracts.

5. Staying knowledgeable about industry changes and developments

CEOs are typically experts in their field, which means staying updated on industry changes and developments. Understanding the state of the industry and any developing trends helps CEOs direct the company in a favourable direction and keep its products and services competitive in changing markets. This often requires significant research, studying the competition and reading articles, books or other materials on the industry.

Related: What Does an Executive Assistant Do? (With How To Become One)

6. Determining how to improve performance, grow the company and save money

One of the CEO's most important duties is to improve the performance of the company and encourage growth, along with reducing unnecessary expenses. CEOs typically answer to shareholders and the board of directors, so maximising profits to increase shareholder earnings is typically a priority. The CEO also evaluates the company's performance and identifies ways to improve it and encourage growth, innovation and competitive products and services.

These job duties vary depending on the size of the company. The owner of a small business might also be the CEO and help with all aspects of daily operations. The CEO of a large company is typically more involved with creating policies and tasking managers with maintaining staff and daily operations.

CEO requirements

Most CEOs have many years of business experience and at least a bachelor's degree. Job requirements can vary depending on the industry and company. CEOs typically have a bachelor's or master's degree in business administration or a field related to their industry. Some CEO positions require that candidates have a master's or even, depending on the industry, a doctorate. CEOs are generally considered experts in their field, which often requires the correct educational credentials to support their position.

The CEO of an accounting firm, for instance, might have a license as a certified public accountant, or CPA, to prove their expertise in accounting. CEOs might get professional or occupational training to develop certain skills, such as ethics or business management.

CEO Skills

To manage companies successfully, CEOs are often highly skilled in a variety of areas. Important skills for CEOs include:

Leadership and management

Because CEOs are responsible for directing a company's operations and staff, they're typically confident in their ability to lead. They are comfortable managing every aspect of an organisation, from its employees to its finances. CEOs develop significant skills in communicating and encouraging others, leading by example and continuous skill development. As a mentor and coach to employees, CEOs often possess good coaching skills, helping employees to develop key skills to help them advance in the company.

Communication

Executives create a vision for their company and assign tasks to department managers and their staff. They can explain their goals clearly and effectively. They're also comfortable speaking publicly, as many CEOs give presentations and lead meetings. CEOs possess significant verbal and non-verbal communication skills, such as active listening and language proficiency. Most CEOs also possess good writing and reading skills to help them communicate via emails or understand complex contracts.

Related: What Is an Executive Director and How To Become One

Decision-making

CEOs make daily policy and management decisions for entire companies. They can assess situations and make decisions that benefit the organisation and its people. They also make quick, decisive choices when problems or challenges arise within the company, its vendors or its customers. For example, if a product causes frequent customer complaints, the CEO might decide to recall and redesign the product to please the company's customers and retain their business.

Problem-solving

Chief executives can face unique and complex dilemmas. They typically have quick analytical and problem-solving skills to help them find the best solutions to these types of situations. For example, if a companywide illness slows production, a CEO might enlist the help of a staffing agency to fill temporary positions until the core workforce can return to their jobs. The ability to think quickly and solve problems makes a CEO a valuable member of the business and shows the importance of good leadership in an organisation.

Time management

With many different responsibilities, CEOs know how to multitask. They typically have good organisational and time management skills to complete each day's tasks so they can meet their goals. This means assigning different tasks to different blocks of time, scheduling meetings and other tasks, meeting deadlines and working with other executives and managers to meet product or design requirements on time.

Average annual CEO salary

Typically, a CEO earns an average salary of around $62,951 per month in the city. Salaries can differ based on the CEO's experience level, education and the company they're overseeing. Some companies also offer bonuses to their CEOs in the form of monetary compensation, shares or other incentives.

CEO work environment

Chief executive officers can find work in almost any industry and for companies of any size. They typically work in offices and might work long days, including evenings and weekends. Many CEOs travel between company branches and locations, to attend conferences and to meet with investors or clients. They often work closely with other company managers and executives and attend seminars, training sessions or other public events. Often, the CEO is the public face of the company, therefore they may also attend news briefings, press conferences or other notable events.

CEO job description example

Here is an example of what a CEO job description might look like on a career website or job posting:

Our board of directors is looking for a skilled chief executive officer to oversee all business operations and help guide the company toward future success. The CEO handles strategic planning and analysis and implementing policies across all departments. The ideal CEO is a confident and natural leader with excellent problem-solving skills and a strong understanding of finance. Candidates must have proven experience in a senior management role and a master's in business administration or a related field.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.