What CEO stands for?

What does CEO stand for?

The head of an organisation is commonly referred to as the CEO – Chief Executive Officer – but what does that entail and what else does it stand for in business?

A CEO of a business has ultimate control and oversight of the direction and initiatives that will drive the company into the future.

In a private business, the CEO retains all the power, however, if it is a publicly trading company then they have to answer and report to a board of directors.

The role can vary due to the size and sector that the business is in, but the community is the day-to-day running of the business and general control of its future targets.

It is common in very large companies to have both a CEO and a president. This is needed when the scale of business needs to have an authoritative figure to cover all areas of the company.

What is the difference between a CEO, President and Managing Director?

All three job titles signify the top senior roles within a business, but their day-to-day roles can differ and can carry different connotations to people looking at the company.

The CEO is the company’s strategist and chief decision maker. They come up with the overall strategy and end goals for the business and delegate these responsibilities throughout their team.

A CEO’s senior management team are there to target and implement the strategy for their sector or area of business. They then report back to the CEO.

The managing director (MD) is a an adaptation of the CEO role but primarily applies to British companies. Bound by the Companies Act of 2006, the MD is the most senior member of a company, but has to adhere to certain social and environmental legalities when making decisions.

An MD has to abide by this law in all aspects of the business, from employment to implementation of strategy.

Governmental agencies and not-for-profit organisations often have a company president.

In these type of businesses, they have more say over the day-to-day operations than a CEO. However, their responsibilities are the same – and if there is a board of directors, they must report to them.

It is interesting to note that over the last few decades, there has been a change in the way these three titles have been used.

As there is a lot of crossover between their overall, bottom-line responsibilities, many people at the opt of larger companies used more than one of these titles.

They would be addressed as ‘CEO and President’, for example.

Nowadays, it is unfavourable to name yourself in multiple positions, as it gives the connotation of having too much responsibility to do both jobs to the best of their ability.

By addressing yourself as one of these titles, irrelevant of changing responsibilities, it gives any potential customer the impression that there is clear strategy and chains of command.

Which title should you choose?

As a small business, the title given to the most senior person doesn’t have much of an effect, other than clearly demonstrating that they are the most senior member of the team.

Many small businesses owners identify themselves as the ‘owner’. This is important to maintain as the company grows and is the only time where having two job titles can benefit the business as a whole.

However, as a company grows it is vital to clearly demonstrate what the job role entails.

The CEO is in charge of overall responsibility and if there is a board, they answer to them. A CEO can also be known as an executive director – however, this is most common in not-for-profit organisations.

The board that a CEO has to answer to is often referred to as board chairman. However, it is common for them to use the title of ‘President’ and are the public face of the business. This entails more of public engagement than a CEO, meaning that a president deals with the media and public questioning, should the situation arise.

No matter which title is selected, the most senior member of the team and, if available, the board of directors must demonstrate a clear role and chain of command.

Employees, management and strategies may change – but security breeds success in business. Knowing where everyone stands and who to report to takes out the guess work and can mean employees can concentrate on implementing strategy set out by the senior team member.

What else does CEO stand for in business?

It is common knowledge that CEO stands for Chief Executive Officer within the business community – but there are many other acronyms it is used for.

Chief Ethics Officer

In a modern world where ethics, equality and environmental issues are near the top of all job specs and it is becoming commonplace to see the Chief Ethics Officer in businesses.

In an adaptation of the HR Manager role, the ethics officer is more of the implementation of philosophy and inclusion amongst staff members. They are also tasked with keeping senior executives compliant with the latest ethical trends and how they will affect their job roles.

With the influx of data and the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules, an ethics officer is also tasked with how information is sourced and secured at the business.

Chief Engineering Officer

This job role is typically used for the person in charge of the engineering department or the most senior member of the factory.

This job role is often needed in the manufacturing and tech sectors as they have most of a technical expertise than the President, MD or CEO.

They often have overall autonomy on the implementation of the strategy set out by their senior manager.

This role can also include the general maintenance of the company’s property.

Chief Education Officer

Often a part of a local council’s senior staff, the education officer is someone who overseas the running of schools, colleges and educational provider’s within their community.

From toddlers to adult learners, they are in charge of the budgets, programmes and improving results of the local people.

Chief Energy Officer

A new trend among business leaders across the pond is to rename the Chief Executive Officer to Chief Energy Officer.

It is supposed to bring up connotations of a new, fresh approach to leadership where being inspiring and emotionally invested in their employees is commonplace.

Modern leadership is about building relationships rather than strict structural chains of command. This is what the ‘new’ CEO is supposed to represent.

Chief Economic Officer

The economic officer is the most senior position for the responsibility of the company’s production and implementation of economic and financial plans.

Often there are subordinate management roles for specific areas of the business, but the economic officer has control over the direction of the businesses growth.

The CEO works closely with an economic officer as the health of the company is vital to their strategy.

Chief Engagement Officer

What is the most important part of the business? Financial? Customer satisfaction? Employee retention?

The engagement officer’s role is to make sure that all aspects of interaction with employees and customers is cared for.

An engagement officer’s role is part HR, part sales, part customer service and part marketing.

Chief Evangelist Officer

Despite its religious connotations, the evangelist officers role is to build a cult like following of your brand.

Inspired by the rise of Apple (who created this role) many retail brands have this job role (though it is often renamed) in order to gain ‘fans’ rather than ‘customers’.

The buzz around the release of a product or service is an important factor within retail – and an evangelist officer is there to create a marketing must-see.

This is particularly important if the company should suffer less-successful times – as these loyal fans will be there to help improve sales and notoriety again.

Chief Exercise Operator

Many businesses with athletes or job roles that require a high level of fitness have a Chief Medical Officer.

However, a growing trend among them is to employ an exercise officer.

These are often gym, health and wellbeing specialists who do not necessarily have the medial training that is part of the medical officer’s role.

Helping employees in these sectors keep their bodies in top physical condition is important for on-field or boardroom success.

Chief Enterprise Officer

This position is solely for businesses who have a significant amount of design responsibilities.

The job role entails developing internal and external processes to maximise output and obtaining the biggest return on investment possible.

A CEO will turn to an enterprise officer in order to find out where the budget can be used to gain the most from each department.

Chief Entertainment Officer

Employee satisfaction is paramount to success in modern business. Corporate responsibility ha changed in modern times and, in particular, millennials value satisfaction over wage in their job role.

Many businesses now employ an entertainment officer in order to organise events for staff and customers.

This can also include the implementation of community and charity work. Businesses that can give an image of fun and thoughtful stand out from the competition.

Chief Equipment Officer

Within the emergency services there is a high level of protocol and maintenance.

While the police officers, firefighters and ambulance workers are out within the community, it is the equipment officer’s job to maintain and invest in the highest quality of products.

These are used in high pressure and sometimes life-threatening circumstances and so, having the best quality equipment is imperative.

What does COO stand for?

The Chief Operating Officer is a member of the senior team who is often seen as the second in command.

The CEO and COO job roles are so closely linked that the COO role is only ever seen in large curtate companies with many sectors and smaller businesses within it.

A CEO looks after the ‘big picture’ and how the products and services they have will take the company into the future.

The COO monitors the companies system of creating and managing of the products and services in a more hands-on approach. The various operations and investments needed are controlled by the COO on a day-to-day basis.

It is common for this member of the team to also be a part of the board – leading to further synergy and success. It often leads to a stronger senior team with both the immediate and long-term strategies cared for.

What does CFO stand for?

The CFO is the same job role as the Chief Economic Officer – as outlined above. The job role entails the overall responsibility and authority for the businesses expenditure and financial stability.

When a project has been approved, the CFO then monitors the accounting aspects of it and prepares a budget with a financial statement.

This is then presented to the CEO, board and whoever else within the business is involved with the project.

The CFO is also responsible for any taxation and financial data.

What does CTO stand for?

A Chief Technical/Technology Officer is the senior executive within a business who manages the technological requirements required for a companies products or services.

Whatever the scientific and technological issues the company is currently facing, the CTO is tasked with resolving them. Once this is achieved, they then add technical expertise to the CEO’s long-term vision for the business.

The role evolved from the engineering officer role following the advancements in IT and technology as a whole.

As the world moves into a more technology-dependent future, the role of the CTO will develop and possible have a CTO for each technology sector.

Many of the world’s largest companies who are not technology-dependent have brought in CTOs in order to prepare themselves for how technology will shape the company’s future plans.

CTOs can also be referred to as Head of R&D and are commonplace in many businesses across the world.

What makes a good CEO?

There are thousands of businesses across the globe with different levels of size and success. But what makes a successful CEO?

Recently, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Elon Musk launched the Falcon Heavy Rocket from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, USA.

This re-usable rocket is part of Musk’s plan to have spaceflight as common as air travel is today.

The test flight had the ability to take up to 64-tonnes of carriage – the largest in history of space travel. However, the only cargo on this flight was Musk’s cheery red Tesla and a mannequin.

If is not just his scientific prowess that makes Musk a good leader. Both his SpaceX and Tesla companies are often ranked as some of the best places in the world to work in.

But, what makes a good CEO and leader in business? Business Leader has asked some of the top names in business, entertainment and sport this question.

Great British Olympic Gold Medallist Denise Lewis said: “Leadership, I always say, is about leading from behind. You’ve got to listen to people and have your ear to the ground.

“There are so many facets to what the objectives are but it is about having clear goals and values as an individual or an athlete would. What are we trying to achieve? Who are we? What are we about? And what are we trying to deliver?”

World-explorer and television personality Levison Wood said: “Being a good business leader is about having the integrity to lead by example, show courage, make bold decisions and not be afraid to take risks.

“In terms of my own experiences, coming from a military and business background, I think that it is key to ensure that your employees respect you and have faith in your decisions. The only way to achieve that is to stick to your guns.

“By doing that, you instil confidence in your team. The best leaders are ones that are not too arrogant to accept the advice of the people that work for them and are confident enough to surround themselves with intelligent and hardworking people.

“The best companies within their industries are the ones that get the best teams. Look at Steve Jobs – he surrounded himself with incredibly talented people and enjoyed huge success.”

Paul Philpott, the UK CEO for car brand Kia said: “Consistency in leadership is key. If you’re one thing one day and something else the next people never know where they stand. If you’re a business leader you have to set out a clear vision for the company – people need to know where the company is going.

“I think the ability to make tough decisions but be fair is also important. You must value each individual’s efforts. You must be energetic, approachable, and motivating.”

Founder and Managing Director of money comparison site money.co.uk, Chris Morling said: “Being a good boss is about strong leadership.  You need to set a really clear vision and direction for everyone to get behind. You need to make sure that everyone in the company understands what that is and believes in it. That involves a lot of communication.

“I think you need to create a culture and environment where people feel that they can experiment and fail, and not feel that they are going to be lambasted or slapped on the back of the wrist.

“The culture needs to encourage empowerment so people can find solutions for themselves and act on them and not worry if they don’t always get the right.

“I think that’s absolutely key. You need to make the work challenging and interesting, you need to make sure that people’s careers and development is high on your agenda, whether that is personal development plans, appraisals or whatever the format is, people need to develop and move forward.

“As a boss, you need to make sure you’ve got the environment that facilitates that. If your business is successful and profitable, you owe it to your team to award as appropriate for hard work and recognition of great work should come as something tangible.

“It doesn’t always have to be financial, it can be in the format of flexible working hours but rewarding people is absolutely key.”

Former Royal Marine and TV personality Monty Halls said: “I’m not sure there is a single set of characteristics that can define a great leader.

“Over my career I’ve been led by people who had superb admin skills but were not very inspirational, and on the other end you have very inspirational people who may have poor admin skills. The best way to describe good leadership is that you’ll know it when you see it.”

Another former Marine and TV personality Anthony Middleton, said: “There was an officer that I worked with in the forces who had worked from the bottom up, but was the fist one out there leading the team – rather than sitting back in headquarters.

“As he worked his way up the ranks, he know what it was like to be one of the lads. It is not just about dishing out tasks or nominating others. If you are the leader and you have a task ahead, you should take charge as you have the most experience. Although, it is still import to get a second and third opinion.”

Alan Smith, UK Managing Director at One4all Rewards, said: “The relationship an employee has with their boss can be really key. Maintaining these relationships and being a good manager is about more than just the finished product, or numbers on a spreadsheet.

“A good leader inspires workers to want to work hard and has the kind of relationship that means if an employee is having a problem or is unhappy, they will feel comfortable approaching them to discuss it. Similarly, people also need to be able to be able to place a degree of trust in their boss. Without trust and sincerity, feedback – both good and bad – is unlikely to be believed or taken seriously.”

Simon Robinson, Professor of Applied Professional Ethics at Leeds Beckett University, said: ““The key responsibility of a leader is creating direction and involving others when determining that direction. Whether it’s people within or outside of the organisation, all stakeholders should be involved and enabled by a leader”.

“The principles of great leadership haven’t changed, but the societal shift towards technology has given the leaders of tomorrow a platform to exercise vision and purpose.”

Managing Director of Strategic Leadership Chris Atkinson said: “Leadership behaviours have a tendency never to happen unless they are planned in or made a part of your regular habits.

“Once a commitment is made you can quickly evaluate how important leadership is to someone by how willing they are to move or reprioritise the activity. Make sure you demonstrate the importance of leadership to you by prioritising it as highly as you would any urgent business need.

“Make a visible/public statement about your willingness to learn and grow. When you are consistently humble you create space for others to explore, if you are the obvious expert then others will always defer to your judgement and stop thinking themselves.”

What makes a bad CEO?

Businesses can live and die by the decisions of their most senior team members. This was seen recently with the liquidation of construction and facilities management powerhouse, Carillion.

But what led to the company’s collapse?

Richard Howson was the Chief Executive of the business from 2012 until July 2017 – just months before Carillion fell into administration.  He was then replaced by Keith Cochrane, who he himself was replaced by Andrew Davies last month.

The leadership at Carillion relied on large contracts, some of which did not live up to expectation in value or length. By assuming the continued success of their contracts the management did not chase other lucrative leads.

In 2017, they slashed £845 million of heir assets and saw debts rise to more than £900 million. The company then sought more than £300 million cash injection from banks but the government refused the bail out.

The company was then unable to continue trading and fell into liquidation.

Although there are many negative traits that can be attested to failed CEOs and companies – relying on what you have and not moving forward can leave the business left behind by the competition.

Day in the life of a CEO

In issue 20 of Business Leader Magazine, we featured the ‘Day in the life of a CEO’ – where we spoke to seven of the top CEOs in the UK about their daily routines.

Although everyone is different and there are many businesses of various shapes, sizes and sectors across the globe – there are common features that can be seen in a CEOs day-to-day life.

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