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The accountabilities for CEOs vary widely depending on a multitude of factors such as the company’s maturity, position in the industry, its values, purpose, culture, competition, previous performance levels and the future of the industry in which it does business.  But here is a general list for your consideration. 

Step 1 – Define CEO’s Accountability

The CEO is responsible for the following.

  1. Communicating, on behalf of the company, with the stakeholders, partners, industry peers and the market.  
  2. Leading and implementing the company’s vision and mission. Keeping the enterprise on purpose.
  3.  Leading the development of the company’s short- and long-term strategy (1, 3 and 5 years). [This of course will be modified each year depending on market conditions and results.]
  4. Evaluating and leading the other executive leaders within the company, including directors, vice presidents, and partners.
  5. Maintaining awareness of the competitive market landscape, expansion opportunities, industry developments, etc.
  6. Ensuring that the company maintains high social and professional responsibilities wherever it does business.
  7. Assessing risks to the company and ensuring they are monitored and minimized.  
  8. Setting strategic goals and making sure they are measurable and describable.
  9. Having the authority to hold senior officers, executives and partners to account in fulfilling their accountabilities.

Step 2 – Define the expected outcomes for fulfilling these responsibilities. 

  1. The CEO’s is expected to achieve the organization’s operational metrics and forecasted success.
  2. The CEO’s is expected to have the enterprise be core value driven, have the vision be clear and present, keeps the company on purpose, and ensures the company delivers on its word. 
  3. The CEO is expected to attract and retain leaders, who will drive breakthrough results now and into the future.
  4. The CEO is expected to enable the executive teams to improve individual leadership and team performance and support the organization’s C-level executives responsible for making crucial business decisions and achieving outcomes.
  5. The CEO is expected to make sure the culture delivers high performance and strong retention.
  6. The CEO provides the “shock absorbers” on the bumpy road of accelerated pace, rapid growth, innovation and change.

Step 3 – CEOs’ Metrix of Success - What is the CEO measured ‘against’ to evaluate their success?

  1. Achievement of the strategic goals.
  2. Success of their executives.
  3. Increase in EBITDA.
  4. Increase in negotiable values - what’s the company worth in the market.
  5. Increase in operational value – improving measurable efficiencies.  
  6. Increase in employee engagement and emotional commitment. 

(All these are measurable, although they may need to be further refined)

Step 4 – Conditions of Satisfaction

·      These are negotiated between the owners/board and the CEO. 

[Conditions of satisfaction are the conditions needed and wanted by the CEO of the partners, employees and executives to succeed in fulfilling their CEO accountabilities.

Examples:  As CEO of Insight Coaching and Consulting, these are some of our conditions of satisfaction.

  1. Core value driven and therefore core values decide.
  2. Purpose determined not profit determined.
  3. Mission driven – To develop leaders in the healthcare industry. 
  4. Respect of each other’s accountabilities and to give each executive the full authority to make decisions in their respective areas of their accountability. 
  5. We before I – Team before Me
  6. No nonsense, straight talk.
  7. Be open to coaching.  Be coach-able. 
  8. Communicate upsets immediately.
  9. Operate with and inside integrity.  
  10. Be responsible. Hold yourself as cause in the matter.

If there is a board of directors, the CEO’s accountabilities are negotiated with the board.  If there is no board, but there are partners operating as the board, then the CEO’s accountabilities are negotiated with this body.  

I strongly recommend you utilize a facilitator to actualize the CEO’s accountability.  The 4 Steps listed above are the elements I use to take the CEO and their committed listeners through the process.  Accountabilities must be mutually agreed upon between the CEO and their committed listeners.

The type and frequency of meetings and assessments on the fulfillment of the CEO’s accountabilities is also determined at this negotiation. We suggest revisiting the CEO’s accountabilities at a minimum of once a year, but we have found that biyearly works best. 

In addition, in our company there are three things I have found about being accountable as the CEO.  First, accountability requires mindfulness, acceptance, honesty and courage.  Two, neither age nor experience matters when it comes to being accountable.  Three, make sure you have the right people around you that want you to succeed in fulfilling your accountability as CEO.  You can’t win unless the team wants you win. 

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