14 Under-appreciated Duties of a CEO

What is one under-appreciated duty that a CEO is responsible for?

To help you understand some of the under-appreciated duties of successful CEOs, we asked other CEOs and business leaders this question for their insights. From firing and hiring employees to creating a fail-proof plan, there are several under-appreciated responsibilities that CEOs deal with every day.

Here are fourteen under-appreciated duties of a CEO:

  • Interacting with the “Outside”
  • Problem-Solving the Bigger Issues
  • Taking the Accountability
  • Defining the Vision and Goals
  • Shaping the Company’s Culture
  • Managing Conflict
  • Setting the Company’s Course
  • Understanding Legal Compliance
  • Maintaining Social Responsibility
  • Creating a Business Network
  • Managing Company Risks
  • Being “On” All the Time
  • Creating a Fail-Proof Plan



Firing and Hiring Employees

Firing employees is one of the toughest things a CEO has to do. It's just not easy, not fun, and certainly not appreciated by people who don't understand how tough it can be. On the flip side, hiring people is also difficult. Oftentimes, a key hire makes or breaks a business. Between firing and hiring, a CEO is ultimately responsible for the people who make up a company – and that's a big duty.

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors


Interacting with the “Outside”

In the words of famed business thinker Peter Drucker, a CEO’s job is to be the link between the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside.’ The ‘inside’ is your organization, and the ‘outside’ is society, the markets, the economy, technology, and your customers. A business is not self-sustaining, and must interact with all those ‘outside’ factors in order to succeed. A CEO must understand the ‘outside’ to operate successfully in it, and also manage the overall ‘inside’ operations of their company so items of value are produced. It’s something only a CEO can do.

Blake Murphey, American Pipeline Solutions


Problem-Solving the Bigger Issues

“CEOs handle a lot, but the time they spend problem-solving often flies under the radar. While most employees can usually handle day-to-day issues, there are some problems that transcend the frontend. CEOs are the ones in the driver’s seat, so ultimately bigger issues fall to them. They are the ones working behind the scenes, on the phones, writing emails, or brainstorming to resolve issues like workflow and process problems.”

Chris Abrams, Abrams Insurance Solutions

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Taking the Accountability

CEOs get the credit when the going is good, but people forget that when things aren’t going a business’s way, a CEO is often also the first to take the heat. Ultimately, final decision-making power rests with the CEO, so it’s only natural that they take the blame when things don’t work out as planned. When a major project fails or profits don’t match forecasts, the CEO is usually the first to go. CEOs have a whole organization resting on their shoulders.

Nick Santora, Curricula


Defining the Vision and Goals

CEOs are the ones most responsible for setting the vision and goals of a company and then ensuring that that vision and those goals are followed and met. In keeping with that, they also have to assess risks and threats to the company vision and goals, steering the firm out of harm’s way if at all possible. They have to navigate so much, just to keep both investors and employees happy. CEOs are the face of a company, but also its compass, captain, and guardian.

Brandon Berglund, Berglund Insurance


Shaping the Company’s Culture

A CEO is the person within the company who is most responsible for shaping company culture. You decide what the company prioritizes and values when it comes to internal and external interactions. Company philosophy and execution are just as important as how a company operates.

Jacob Dayan, Community Tax


Managing Conflict

CEOs have an obligation and a duty that comes with the territory and almost certainly leads to disappointment. We have to make decisions about how to use our company’s finite resources, which means tradeoffs – we can never have it all or do it all. CEOs must get used to confrontation and dissent, and learn to communicate in a way that minimizes and diffuses these negative reactions of teammates, board members, and other key stakeholders.

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Minesh J Patel, The Patel Firm


Setting the Company’s Course

Different teams, departments, employees, and managers all have their own focuses and specialties, but the CEO is responsible for the whole organization. A CEO has to keep track of every team’s project, every department’s budget, and every manager’s effectiveness. This requires a high level of organizational competency, and robust time management skills. CEO's help set a company’s course and do all they can to keep it on course.

Eric Blumenthal, Zoe Print


Understanding Legal Compliance

A CEO is in charge of steering a company through its ups and downs. They need to be aware of every detail, from legal compliance risks like whether or not they've broken any laws; comply with regulations; ensure employees know what their rights are both legally and under management policy so that if something does go wrong, it won't affect the success, rest assured!

Saskia Ketz, Mojomox


Maintaining Social Responsibility

Maintaining social responsibility while at the same time, assessing risk are two intertwined and often underappreciated duties of a CEO. Businesses, through changes in consumer culture, are becoming more socially aware. According to the Harvard School of Business, 73% of investors take into consideration a company’s social responsibility before committing funds, and 25% of consumers have “zero tolerance” for companies that engage in questionable relationships and practices.

A CEO is responsible for directing a company to these best practices both at the community and national levels. Who the company engages with, both in related businesses, and its target audience, have factors of reward and risk that must be considered carefully by a CEO to maintain a company’s commitment to social responsibility. Although these decisions appear fluid, these choices are difficult ones and can demonstrate a good CEO’s value.

Adelle Archer, Eterneva


Creating a Business Network

The CEO is an unheralded hero in the company's efforts to turn a profit. To keep the business on track, the CEO steps in to increase sales by contacting suppliers, looking for new acquisition possibilities, attending and participating in relevant industry events, and seeking guidance from peers and mentors. Relationships are at the heart of the business; the capacity to communicate and exchange ideas with others is critical.

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Chris Thompson, Backdoor Survival


Managing Company Risks

The CEO is responsible for the company's vision, mission, culture, strategy, risk management, product quality, innovation, etc… There are many under-appreciated duties of the CEO. But what is most misunderstood is the CEO’s role in risk management. A good CEO knows which risks are worth taking because the upside outweighs the downside. The paramount duty of the CEO is to lead. It’s the CEO’s job to create an environment where everyone follows by example. The CEO should be the one who gives people permission to follow their dreams.

Ben Miller, Focus On Digital


Being “On” All the Time

One thing people don’t realize is that even their smallest actions directly impact a company’s culture, for better or worse. The way they dress sets the tone for the office dress code, their reaction to errors sends positive or negative signals on risk tolerance, and even the most casual conversations can still be impactful. The role of the CEO is to always be “on,” and it’s a challenging duty to navigate!

James Diel, Textel


Creating a Fail-Proof Plan

It is creating a fail-proof plan that will benefit the company in the long term. A CEO can often be judged on how well the company is performing and the profit it gives. But an often underappreciated duty is the fact that a CEO should think ahead. You are not only responsible for the current operations but also lead the company to reach long-term goals.

Kathryn McDavid, Editor's Pick

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Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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