- Date: 1793
- a principal executive: as
- a : the president of a republic
- b : the governor of a state
- Etymology: chief executive officer
- Date: 1975
- the executive with the chief decision-making authority in an organization or business
A chief executive officer (CEO) or chief executive is the highest-ranking corporate officer (executive) or administrator in charge of total management of an organization. An individual appointed as CEO of a corporation, company, organization, or agency reports to the board of directors.
The responsibility of the chief executive officer is to align the company, internally and externally, with their strategic vision. The core duty of a CEO is to facilitate business outside of the company while guiding employees and other executive officers towards a central purpose. The size and sector of the company will dictate the secondary responsibilities. A CEO must have a balance of internal and external initiatives to build a sustainable company.
- For corporations, the CEO primarily coordinates external initiatives at a high level. As there are many other c-level executives (e.g. marketing, information, technical, financial etc.), seldom do corporate CEOs have low-level functions.
- For emerging entrepreneurs, their acting position as a CEO is much different than that on the corporate level. As oftentimes other c-level executives are not incorporated in small operations, it is the duty of the CEO (and sometimes founder) to assume those positions.
- Mid-sized companies borrow from corporate and entrepreneurial CEO responsibilities. There will not be all c-level positions available so the CEO must compensate for gaps either through delegating or assuming additional responsibility.
In many states, when an organization incorporates it is necessary to specify individuals in the role of President, Treasurer, and Secretary with the proviso that the person nominated as President cannot also hold the position of Treasurer. But often a person can be specified as Secretary/Treasurer.
In many non-profits, there is a gross confusion between the Chair of the Board (sometimes referred to as the President of the Board), the Secretary of the Board (also confused with the Secretary of the corporation), and then a Board often times creates the position of Treasurer.
Boards should not have Presidents or Treasurers, but Boards and Corporations both need Secretaries. (The source of the word is neat - keeper of the secrets.)