Chief executive officers are the leaders of the companies they work for. They’re responsible for everything from strategic vision to financial performance, and their decisions have a profound impact on the company’s bottom line.
That said, CEOs can’t take all of the credit for their company’s success or failures. They work closely with executive teams, boards of directors, and other stakeholders when making decisions about the future of their organization. And in many cases, they report directly to ownership groups or boards of directors who are responsible for ensuring that companies are well-managed and successful.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a chief executive officer and what it takes to become one yourself.
Chief Executive Officer Job Duties
The following are typical job duties for a chief executive officer:
- Managing the company’s daily operations and making business decisions, such as setting company policy and reviewing financial reports
- Developing and implementing company policies based on management philosophy or other established principles
- Planning for growth by conducting research on industry trends, identifying new markets or customers, and recruiting new talent
- Ensuring that employees have the training and support needed to perform their jobs effectively
- Directing the hiring of new employees to replace those who leave, ensuring that existing staff has adequate training to work with new hires by providing ongoing feedback and coaching
- Evaluating the performance of managers and supervisors, while ensuring that they have effective leadership skills
- Supervising employees by encouraging performance improvement while addressing problems such as attendance issues or employee misconduct
- Reviewing employee complaints regarding workplace conditions such as discrimination or harassment in order to facilitate resolution of issues or prevent problems from escalating
Chief Executive Officer Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for chief executive officers is $178,268. Those earning higher wages tend to work in the finance and insurance industry. The top earners bring home well over $400,000 per year.
The number of CEOs is expected to decline over the next decade. This is due to the rising popularity of other leadership structures, such as flatter organizations. These are becoming more popular because they are seen as being more efficient and effective.
Chief Executive Officer Job Requirements
The requirements for chief executive officers are as follows:
Education: Most chief executive officers in the United States have a bachelor’s degree. This degree can be in an area like business, finance or another related field. It is also common for CEOs to have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA).
Experience: The vast majority of CEOs have extensive experience working in the industry they lead. This is often an advantage because it gives them knowledge about how to work within the company and what its customers expect. It also provides experience that can be applied to managing employees.
Certifications & Licenses: A chief executive officer is not required to hold any certifications or licenses. However, some organizations may look for specific industry certifications like Project Management Professional (PMP).
Chief Executive Officer Skills
In addition to the required skills for this job, a successful candidate should possess the following:
Strategic thinking: A CEO must be able to identify strategic goals and objectives and implement a plan to achieve them.
Communication skills: A CEO must be able to communicate effectively with employees, customers, and shareholders.
Time management skills: The position requires a great deal of self-discipline and the ability to manage time well.
Self-confidence: The job requires individuals to have self-confidence and an ability to make difficult decisions, usually while under a deadline.
Ability to lead: Candidates must have strong leadership skills in order to motivate and direct their teams.
Business knowledge: Successful candidates must have a working knowledge of business principles and practices.
Chief Executive Officer Work Environment
The chief executive officer (CEO) typically works in an office, usually part of a larger company. The position often requires great demands on the person’s time and energy. CEOs must be able to handle stress well, as they are responsible for running a complex organization or a large business. CEOs usually spend much of their workday in meetings with employees and clients. They also spend a lot of time working alone, preparing reports and plans for future company plans and performance.
As CEOs have become more important to an organization’s survival, there has been a growing trend toward working long hours. In addition to their regular work hours, CEOs often have to deal with emergencies that arise at any hour of the day or night.
Chief Executive Officer Career Advancement
Becoming a CEO is a long and arduous process. Many people spend years climbing the corporate ladder to reach this point. If you want to become a CEO, you’ll need to have proven yourself as an effective leader, manager, and communicator. You’ll also need to have demonstrated your ability to lead growth and profitability within your current company.
Once you do, however, you can have a huge impact on your organization and its direction. From this position of influence, advancing is often about focusing on growing your company’s brand, expanding its vision, or broadening its presence in the industry. You may even want to consider opening your own business.
Chief Executive Officer Trends
Here are three trends influencing how chief executive officers work. Chief executive officers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Increasing Importance of Diversity
Today, CEOs are not only responsible for the success of their company, but also their employees. They must be aware of workplace diversity and ensure that all workers feel respected and included at all levels of the organization.
This can lead to a number of changes in how CEOs view their position within the organization. For example, they might become more aware of how cultural factors affect an employee’s performance and have to work to help resolve any issues arising from those factors, such as language barriers or difficulties adapting to a new culture.
More Women CEOs
While the number of women CEOs is still small compared to their male counterparts, female chief executives are becoming more prominent in American business.
According to Forbes, which publishes an annual list of the most powerful women in business, there were six female CEOs in 2012, up from four in 2011 and three in 2010. Additionally, three of these women led Fortune 500 companies (compared to zero in 2010). This trend is likely to continue as research shows that companies with more gender diversity on their boards tend to perform better than those with less.
Value of Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is an increasingly important skill for CEOs, especially in the consumer goods sector, where digital advertising is becoming increasingly important.
Online marketing can be used to drive more traffic to websites, but also serve as a key way to target customers with personalized messages about products they are likely to purchase.
Additionally, digital media has become essential for the creation of brand awareness among potential consumers.
How to Become a Chief Executive Officer
1. Planning Your Career Path
If you want to become a CEO, it’s important to understand the responsibilities of this position. A CEO must be adept at managing employees and understanding company financials; many CEOs also act as board members for their companies. Aspiring CEOs should ensure that they have the necessary skills and experience to take on these tasks before applying for positions in this field.
Another key skill for aspiring CEOs is networking; networking events are an excellent way to get your name out there while getting to know other business leaders in your industry. To prepare for this type of event, read up on industry trends so that you can discuss them with others.
In order to get where they are today, CEOs often took on leadership roles early in their careers; this experience gave them opportunities to hone their management skills and develop their abilities as a decision-maker. For example, if you want to become a CEO one day, consider joining student government or another club that requires you to manage a group of people and set goals for your organization.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for chief executive officers highlight their planning and organizing abilities, strategic thinking, and ability to work in a team. Use the descriptions of your previous jobs to highlight how you demonstrated these skills in the workplace. When describing your previous experience, focus on how you led teams of people to accomplish goals.
In addition to listing your professional experience, be sure to list any certifications that demonstrate your knowledge in relevant fields such as business management or public relations. By including details about your educational background and any publications you’ve written for, you will also show employers that you are committed to continuing your education and keeping up with industry trends.
3. Applying for Jobs
If you’re interested in a high-profile job such as being a Chief Executive Officer, building up a reputation of success is important, and this is done over time through proven success in your working career.
Networking can be beneficial for positions of influence as this makes you visible to prospective employers. You can also network with recruitment agencies that specialize in Executive hires.
When applying for positions of influence and leadership, research is key. In order to succeed in landing a strong application that can secure you an interview, you need a strong understanding of the company, its challenges, and its successes. For many other positions, it may be important to reach out to many companies, but for a position like a CEO, you want to focus on targeting specific organizations where your specific experience is highly relevant and fits the profile they are looking for.
4. Ace the Interview
Before the interview, it is important to do extensive research on the company and its strategy. Researching the company will help you prepare for specific questions about the business and identify opportunities to mention how your skills and experience can add value to the organization. Having a strong sense of the company’s strategy and current situations can help you tailor your responses naturally as well as build rapport with interviewers.
When preparing for a CEO interview, it’s also key to have a clear understanding of your own leadership style. Be prepared to articulate how you communicate, make decisions, and lead. You will likely be asked to delve into your track record of success in achieving financial results. You should also expect to be asked about your thoughts on the company’s product or services, its competition, and industry trends or current events.