Overview Chapter 4.05: You, The CEO

Quick Summary: Only a select number of people in business get the opportunity to run an organization.


There are over 18 million businesses in the United States but only about 5,000 publicly traded companies.  Although the large publicly traded companies get all the headlines and attention, over 97% of all businesses have less than 50 employees.  Regardless of the size, each organization, large or small, public or private, has a leader.  Some have the title of CEO, while many others do not.  In any case, each leader has unique responsibilities that are not shared with anyone else in the organization.  It is both a burdensome and awesome responsibility.    

Selecting subjects for this chapter versus the chapters on Management and Human Capital Management was difficult.  Without a doubt, the role of the CEO includes all of the concepts in the Management chapter, and the CEO must be the leader in the proper management of all of the Human Capital resources in the company.  The major criteria used to parse the subjects for the articles in this chapter was the personal issues that fall directly on the CEO.  Most of the articles involve the CEO’s responsibility to set the tone or organization and lead by example.  Some of the articles in this chapter discuss various aspects of a company’s culture.  A premise of these articles is that company culture evolves starting with the actions of the CEO, which are quickly mimicked and embraced by others. 

Although each article in this chapter can stand on its own and be read in any order, it is probably more effective for a CEO to read all of the articles to gain a better understanding of the awesome responsibility they have in shaping the company.  Financial success of the company is clearly important and necessary, but it is not sufficient to guarantee long-term viability.  The stage set by the CEO and their relentless pursuit of some fundamental concepts, many of which are discussed in this chapter, will be the difference between the building of an organization that will survive and thrive long after the CEO has departed and one that won’t.  Think of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Andy Grove, Jack Welch, and Steve Jobs as some of the CEOs that built mighty organizations based on their personalities and the cultures that resulted from their presence.

Chapter Sections and Summaries

Your Role

The mere fact that you are the “Number One” person in your organization, means that there are some subtle, but very important, duties and responsibilities that you have that are not obvious.  They are not obvious until they are neglected. 

Set the Standard

You are always “on stage,” and everyone looks to you for guidance, all of the time, in every circumstance.  You are constantly sending messages, whether you intend to or not.  Your employees will base their standards of behavior and their actions on what they perceive you want by what they see and what you say.


A company’s culture forms naturally based on what the accepted norms and actions that occur every day.  As the company’s leader, you set the standard, and the culture evolves based on what you do and say (while you are on stage).


Chapter Articles and Summaries

Introduction to Chapter 4.05: You: The CEO

Only a select number of people in business get the opportunity to run an organization.

The Buck Starts Here

Focus on vision, strategy, and tone to move the organization in the desired direction.

You Wear Two Hats

Leading and managing are two different activities that the CEO must perform simultaneously.

Always on Stage

An audience is always present, filled with supporters and critics that interpret your every action.

What Others Think

 Performance consistency, compliance, and longevity are critical elements for meeting all goals.

Your Balancing Challenge

A CEO must balance the needs of employees, partners, customers, and financial investors.

Your Top Priority

Spending the right amount of time on the right things must be every CEO’s top priority.

Be Visible and Approachable

Take time for people instead of filling your time with activities that are not truly important.

They Are Not You

As the CEO, you have a unique perspective on the business, do not expect others to share it.

Throw Away Your Notes

Find individuals that you can ask to do something, confidently knowing it will get done.

Look in the Mirror

Companies at different stages require different leadership and management skills.

Set the Tone

Lead by example, showing the attributes that you believe in that need to be embraced by all.

Be the Sage

Focus on asking questions to allow others to discover answers on their own.

Parachuting In

Joining an existing company as the new CEO always involves responding to incredible demands.

Culture Just Happens

Culture develops on its own over time but takes its direction from early nurturing by the CEO.

Politics is not a Dirty Word

We are constantly deluged with different ideas that we have to decide to embrace or not.

Fair versus Equal

Treating everything the same or equal can result in unfair and resentful feelings and behaviors.

Consensus versus Confrontation

A recognized, repeatable process for decision making is critical to a company’s success.

With or Without You

Does your company run on cruise control, or do you have to be constantly behind the wheel?


Article Number : 4.050101   

A Handy Reference Guide for Executives and Managers at All Levels.

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The weight of your world does not have to be on your shoulders.
The articles in this site will help to lift that weight from your shoulders.
Pick an article similar to how you pick a route on a page of an atlas.
There is no need to look at other articles, just as you ignore other pages in an atlas.
It is easy to start a business but it is hard to run. Bumps and unexpected sharp turns in the road are always present.
Others have traveled the road before you; learn from them. This site may help.