CEO – how does his role differ from other managers and what qualities should he have?

5 min read
CEO – how does his role differ from other managers and what qualities should he have?

CEOs must have the ability to think globally, bring innovative ideas and develop an entrepreneurial spirit. About what distinguishes a CEO in the chain of TOP managers (and who these people are at their core) is in the material.

Who is the CEO, what is he responsible for and to whom does he report

CEO (Chief Executive Officer) is a person responsible for all processes occurring in the company. In most cases, he serves on the board of directors. Accordingly, he is a key person in decision making and is subject to influence/criticism only from the founders, since the position a priori implies independence, the ability to bear enormous responsibility and the proper level of developed rational and creative thinking.

What functions does the CEO perform?

The responsibilities of the CEO usually include solving global business problems: from monitoring all business processes and coordinating candidates for key positions to analytical work in the form of managing all business assets (at a minimum, tracking and assessing the dynamics of financial performance).

In addition to internal processes in the company, it is also important for the CEO to find time to develop external representation: identifying potential partners/clients, participating in specialized conferences, forums, background (continuous) monitoring of best organizational practices/trends, etc.

If we simplify it to a brief essence, then the CEO’s task is to protect what is already working, improve where it is “lame” and at the same time systematically scale all this.

Personal case: it may seem that the CEO is some kind of omnipresent professional who does absolutely everything, which is essentially impossible within the framework of a large business. The “omnipresent” must necessarily have many “hands” to which a number of processes are delegated. COO, CTO, CFO, CSO, CIO and other C-Level managers, if properly selected, can independently perform their work efficiently.

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But even if there is no need to plunge headlong into each of the directions, everything should be under non-stop control, since responsibility for all decisions and results falls squarely on the CEO.

It is often said about directors that they should look at business processes comprehensively, a little “from above” (for a better overview of the “landscape”), but this is far from being about “sitting on the throne.” In my understanding of this role, a CEO who delegates and observes (and communicates only with his deputies) has a high chance of missing something truly important, literally jeopardizing the fate of the company.

We have a “complaint sofa” in the CEO’s office, where each employee can personally share current problems, ask for advice, or propose a hypothesis for testing. In my experience, it is extremely important to take the time to “check in” with colleagues at any level, and give them the opportunity to “check in” with you.

The difference between the CEO and other top managers

This is the main difference between the CEO and other C-Level managers: each of them has a dedicated area of ​​responsibility, and the CEO bears it comprehensively for everything (and even responsibility for other people’s responsibilities).


In addition, he is primarily responsible for the legal and financial components of the business and its team, and not the financial director, as it may seem. And in case of negative performance results, the team may be removed from office (at best) or face criminal liability for any inconsistencies with the law.

Personal case: this is why I prefer to select C-Level managers personally. In addition, I choose those specialists from whom I can learn something and develop some of my competencies. Even though CEOs are considered all-knowing celestial beings, they truly cannot be exceptional experts in everything. Therefore, it is important to find competent people whom you can trust, or to develop them within the company itself. Our team prefers the second method.

“Must have” for the CEO. What competencies should you have

If we talk about hard-skills, then this is the ability to select the right team members and delegate authority to them, analytical thinking, the ability to plan and set priorities extremely accurately. Important skills in the work of a modern CEO are digital sensitivity and innovation.

Soft-skills include communication skills, both with partners and clients, and with your own employees. An important place in the professional development of a CEO should be the ability to accept one’s weaknesses and the inability to know everything, not be afraid to learn from the best and regularly develop independently. Also, the CEO should not demand from employees what he cannot do himself.

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Personal case: for example, I find it difficult to maintain a Work-Life balance, although I always encourage my team to find time for rest, sports, and leisure with their family. But I’m working on it. If you demand, comply.

At the same time, it cannot be said that over the past five years, the requirements for hard- and soft-skills of CEOs have changed significantly. The pandemic, geopolitical unrest, currency instability and many other unforeseen situations have taught leaders at all levels the most important thing – flexibility. In volatile times, 40% of CEOs set themselves a priority strategic goal – preserving and retaining the team, which is logical. The statistics as a whole illustrate the key rule of successful CEOs: “Circumstances present a challenge – we accept it and continue to work with new inputs.” No “magic”, only the power of responsibility.

In conclusion

The CEO position is not a “gift” or a dream job, as many people think. It has pros and cons. The first include the opportunity to create on a large scale, promote and be proud of the professional growth of a team or individual employee, as well as new successful projects. Understand that you also took part in this.

Of the minuses (although this is rather also a plus) – constant work on oneself and new discoveries about oneself, the nature of the decisions made, the nature of the results of one’s work. You can’t do without reflection, which happens a little more than there might be in another position, otherwise you can forget about development and wait for the business to collapse due to some minor but recurring mistake.

In any case, this position is about choice, not status. If a person has made this choice consciously and enjoys it, then he is in the right place.
Sergei Kovtun
Sergei Kovtun
What basic qualities should a CEO have for the successful development of a company? Share your opinion:
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