|The effective CEO
Although there is no absolute agreed textbook definition of what a Chief Executive Officer's role should include, there is clear agreement that the role is critical in developing and maintaining the sustainability and effectiveness of the organisation.
The saying "a fish rots from the head down", is a phrase often used by organisation management experts as a sort of shorthand diagnosis to explain why an organisation is ailing. It is a very powerful reminder that no matter how talented, experienced and hard-working the rest of the staff and volunteers might be, if the CEO is a poor performer, then the organisation will eventually succumb.
When people are asked to describe their ideal CEO, they will usually talk about people with attributes and skills that are spread evenly across two main headings:
The CEO as leader/visionary
CEO's need to be actively involved in creating or shaping a compelling vision for their organisations. They must be skilled at expressing it with great passion and conviction and continually finding new ways for people to relate to it at all levels. On the alert for signs that the vision may be flagging, they are prepared to recreate it, to re- energise the organisation's work and acceptance within the community.
The CEO and the board
A close and trusting partnership between the board and the chief executive is essential for good governance. It is up to the CEO to help set the agenda, assemble the information and make recommendations that shape the board's discussions.
Board members need to build sufficient confidence in the leadership of the CEO to trust that the operational micro-issues are being looked after. This frees them to concentrate on their ultimate role of fulfilling their responsibilities to the organisation's stakeholders.
The board/CEO relationship is particularly important when planning for the future. Having more relevant information than the board, the CEO must be involved in setting future directions and strategies. Being directly responsible for implementation of the plan, he/she needs to guide the board towards a vision and long-range goals that are both sensible and achievable.
The CEO and the external environment
The CEO and staff
This involves creating an atmosphere of respect and support for their work. Effective CEO's know that they can't control everything that happens in an organisation. They learn that they need to sublimate their own egos and focus on recognising strengths and abilities elsewhere in the organisation. By encouraging all staff to spend as much time as possible using these strengths, they motivate and engage them to work purposefully. At the same time, mature CEOs recognise their own strengths and are unafraid to delegate their areas of weakness to others who have strengths in these areas.
Generally, effective leaders know that to attract and retain talented and enthusiastic paid staff and volunteers, they genuinely have to care about them and tangibly demonstrate that they do in meaningful ways.
The CEO as effective efficient manager
Technically, the CEO is ultimately responsible for overseeing the total operations of the organisation. This does not mean that the CEO should have intimate knowledge of the detail of every aspect of the work. Rather, effective CEOs set in place systems that keep them in touch with what else is happening away from the organisation, without losing contact with what is happening at all levels within the organisation. They appropriately delegate responsibility and authority within the organisation so that mutually agreed goals and objectives are met and progress is regularly reported on in all of the following areas:
The CEO oversees design, marketing, promotion, delivery and quality of programs, products and services. Responsibility also includes developing evaluation strategies and adjustment of systems, processes and structures in response to evaluation findings.
Human Resource Management
Financial and physical resources management
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