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I often ask CEOs and corporate managers a simple question: “What is your responsibility as the person in charge of running your business?” I typically get a blank stare or vague response, something like, “Well, I do a lot of things. I guess my job is to keep the company or project moving forward.”
Those are not useful answers. It’s no wonder that many entrepreneur CEOs just wander between from one crisis to the next without any real thought about how to proactively drive the company forward. Before you assemble your team, the first thing you must do is gain absolute clarity on what your role and day-to-day responsibilities are as the company’s leader. Knowing what to focus on will also help ensure you’re not getting in the way of others doing their jobs.
As CEO, make sure you are fulfilling these six key job responsibilities.
Do you have a clear, specific, and measurable vision? As the CEO, you are responsible for dictating the direction of your company. This may seem straightforward, but it’s more complicated than it sounds. When I ask CEOs where their company will be three years from now, only 1 in 10 has a good answer. Create a specific and measurable vision for your company.
Responsible for the Cash
For any company, cash and access to cash is the lifeblood, the air you breathe. If you run out of cash, you’re done. This is why the CEO has the ultimate responsibility for financials. You can’t leave this task entirely to your CFO, accountant, or bookkeeper. It’s too important to the company. Always keep an eye on your company’s cashflow.
You must make sure you have the right people in the right positions at the right times. This can sometimes be difficult, especially if you are sentimentally attached to old employees who have been working with you from the beginning. Unfortunately, if their time of usefulness has passed, you must consider letting them go and finding someone more suitable for the position.
Certain people — bankers, key vendors, VIP customers and shareholders, for instance — must have access to you at any time of day. For this reason, the CEO, not another employee, must be responsible for key relationships. Not sold? Consider this: If the person you hired to oversee accounts leaves, does she take that key relationship with her? You need to own the relationships that are most important to your business.
The CEO must have processes in place to continue learning. Be diligent about keeping up with news in your industry, with your competitors, and with your customers. And just as important as staying on top of the market, competition, and customer needs is growing your team. Continually educate them so each month is more fine-tuned than the last.
Just in case all these other responsibilities made you forget: you are the chief energizing officer. You are responsible for communicating what’s going on to the rest of your team, explaining the company’s results, and getting employees on board with the vision for the future. If you want your team to buy into what you’re selling, you need to align their best interests with your best interests. You can do this through open communication.
While a CEO’s job is constantly evolving, these six key responsibilities will help you proactively drive your company forward. Keep them on paper, in the front of your mind, or wherever else ensures they stick.