By Stacy Eads
February 22, 2024

Demystifying the CEO role

Uncover how the role of a CEO shifts from hands-on management to strategic leadership.

Let’s demystify more C-Suite titles, including the ever-evolving role of the CEO. Because as you grow, your role advances as the company changes over time. A small-business CEO does not have the same day-to-day functions as a larger company CEO who has already surrounded themselves with a C-Suite of executives, such as a CFO – Chief Financial Officer, a COO – Chief Operations Officer, or a CMO – Chief Marketing Officer. That makes sense, right? After all, as your company grows, you grow with it!

Welcome to Part 2 of our three-part article series from our Scaling Up with Coach Stacy Eads column. Last month, we demystified the CFO (Chief Financial Officer), including both an in-depth breakdown of roles and accountabilities and the Top 10 Tips to create fraud prevention processes in your company.

This month, let’s start with the CEO role and what 2024 key accountabilities they’ll be focused on this year. (Next month, in March 2024, we’ll unveil how the CEO relies upon the COO and CMO to round out our 3-part series into the C-Suite.)

Now you might pause and ask, “Wait a minute – why would a CEO not know their own role?!”… Well, you’d be surprised. This is a common question I’m asked as I am privately coaching entrepreneurs all across North America.

Think about it. When you had an owner/operator mentality, you wore many hats in the organization, and you got your hands dirty daily in marketing, sales, operations, and customer service. You were so successful in those roles that the company grew as a result of your direct actions. As your growth spurred even more progress, you began to hire out some of those roles. Over time, you became slightly removed from the core process or product. The need for meetings and communication increased.

Then, you really began to grow exponentially and needed a second tier of managers or team leads. Eventually, you looked around and began to wonder about hiring an internal CMO – Chief Marketing Officer or COO – Chief Operating Officer, to take some of the weight off your shoulders. You recognize you need a higher grade of talent.

You want to surround yourself with people who WOW you! Your goal is to hire people into these C-Suite roles who bring more to the table than you know how to train yourself.

Let’s demystify some of these C-Suite titles, including the ever-evolving role of the CEO themselves. Because as you grow, your role advances as well. A small-business CEO does not have the same day-to-day functions as a larger company CEO who has already surrounded themselves with a C-Suite of executives, such as a CFO – Chief Financial Officer, a COO – Chief Operations Officer, or a CMO – Chief Marketing Officer. 

Role of CEO

There’s a very clear trend among my business coaching clients. As they grow in size from an owner/operator small business under $1 million, where they did 100% of all roles at one time or another, to becoming a Mid-Size Growth Company rapidly scaling between $5M to $50M in a few short years, they realize they need to let go and delegate past responsibilities while embracing larger, new accountabilities.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the CHIEF ENERGY OFFICER! They control the energy of the company – both in employee engagement, client enthusiasm, and innovative gumption to forge ahead with gusto!

The CEO is the person who leads the entire team through a world filled with uncertainties. While leading with honesty, integrity, and vulnerability – they must conquer the Stockdale Paradox: to face the brutal facts while always having hope we will prevail.

Acclaimed author Verne Harnish emphasizes in Scaling Up: How A Few Companies Make It … and Why the Rest Don’t that the CEO has a few key roles they must get right (in collaboration with their Leadership C-Suite team):

  • Master the 4 Decisions to Scale: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash
  • Delegate the 10 Rockefeller Habits of Execution to your COO or Operations Manager
  • Get incentivized Compensation Plans right, then get them out of sight with 5 Key Compensation Thrusts.
  • If you want more information on any of these books, please reach out to for free worksheets, summaries, and tips.

Harnish recently touted the book CEO Excellence, written by Carolyn Dewar, Vikram Malhotra, and Scott Keller, which covers the 6 Mindsets of a Chief Executive Officer. Each mindset has 3 “practices” each – thus, 18 practices in total which form a CEO checklist of sorts:  

  • Direction-Setting Mindset – Make big moves early and act like an outsider when it comes to allocating assets.
  • Organization Alignment Mindset – Find the one thing and solve for “stagility” – the concept of being an “Agile Scaleup” which maintains strong structural integrity (values, purpose, BHAG, brand promises) while providing flexibility in priorities.
  • Mobilize Leaders Mindset – use operating rhythm to get into a groove and make the team the star.
  • Board Engagement Mindset – tap the wisdom of elders and focus on the future. Aligns with our Scaling Up idea of choosing advisers that align with your 3 – 5 year Key Thrusts.
  • Stakeholder Connection Mindset – focus on having a social purpose and staying elevated above the fray.
  • Personal Effectiveness Mindset – to manage your time and energy by focusing on sprints — and remain humble while living your “to-be” list.

There’s no shortage of “lists” that say what the CEO of any given-size company should be doing day to day. Yet, I like the Atlassian viewpoint. Presently listed as the #16 Best Places to Work, their co-CEO, Scott Farquhar, recently shared the four things he measured himself against over the last fiscal year in 2023.

  1. Hire and Fire Senior Team
  2. Set the Vision
  3. Set the Culture
  4. Resource Allocation and Big Bets

Ask yourself: How are you doing in those four areas?

This year, McKinsey sent a slew of articles into my inbox. I encapsulated the key ideas into this distilled list of 2024 Popular CEO Priorities:

  • Vision, plan, and execution
  • Strategic planning
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • P&L accountability
  • CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) Accountability
  • COO (Chief Operating Officer) Accountability
  • Customer-centric innovation
  • Frontline staff insights
  • Operational alignment with brand
  • Voice of the customer & Consumer buying behavior trend awareness
  • Resilience & adapting to disruptions
  • Speed as a key skill
  • Anticipating change
  • Cross-functional engagement & stakeholder engagement
  • Talent value proposition
  • M&A strategies
  • New business building & new market opportunities

Resource Links to Dive Deeper into the CEO Role:

Actions and Achievements of the CEO might look or sound like this:

  • CEOs adopting a proactive approach to digital disruption by considering themselves as chief technology architects.
  • Emphasis on developing advanced analytics for a competitive advantage.
  • Enhanced focus on cybersecurity, with 48% of CEOs prioritizing investments in cybersecurity measures. This is an acknowledgment of the increasing threat of cyberattacks and the need to embed cybersecurity controls into business operations.
  • Automation of work as a response to digital disruption, with 45% of CEOs leveraging technology to automate manual tasks – both in warehouses and manufacturing robotics, as well as artificial intelligence that’s springing desk jockeys to life with a renewed vigor for efficiency and effective use of time management.
  • Advocating early actions to lower costs and protect balance sheets in anticipation of economic uncertainty.
  • 76% of CEOs, according to McKinsey are cutting operating expenses as a priority.
  • Redesigning products and services to free up cash through COGs discipline (cost of goods sold) while enhancing pricing strategies.
  • Recognition of changing dynamics with a focus on planning for multiple scenarios and contingencies. Agility and adaptability are the name of the game.
  • 62% of CEOs surveyed are creating resilience in supplier networks by addressing potential points of failure in supply chains.

Resource Link:

Email me directly if you’d like to request a 30-minute personalized CEO coaching session about this month’s article topic:

Thank you for reading Part 2: “Demystifying C-Suite Roles: CEO Key Accountabilities for 2024.” In case you missed it, Part 1: “Demystifying C-Suite Roles: CFO Leadership Responsibilities Unveiled” was published in January. Visit the Edmond Business online magazine at to read the Chief Financial Officer deep dive with bonus tips on fraud prevention systems for your organization.

Be sure to sign up to receive monthly emails from Edmond Business while you’re on the website. You’ll find the signup form at the bottom of the webpage. That will help you stay informed as our third and final part of this series goes live in March 2024.

Tune back in for Part 3: “Demystifying C-Suite Roles: COO & CMO Accountabilities Revealed.” 

If your team needs a facilitator for your leadership retreats, please visit my website for more information on how to get started with my quarterly strategic planning accountability program:

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About Stacy Eads

Edmond native & UCO Alumna, Stacy Eads, is an award-winning “Most Admired CEO” who scaled her company as a Woman in Tech before becoming an International Scaling Up Business Coach. She now empowers other CEOs from $2M to $200M to embrace their leadership potential through quarterly strategic planning. Her talent is in high demand to CEO Coach, Train Teams, and Speak at Events in both the U.S.A. and Canada.

Stacy Eads’ career affiliations include 50 Women Making a Difference award, Circle of Excellence award, Torch Ethics award, Most Admired CEO award, Edmond Chamber & UCO Mentor, Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma Board of Directors, TEDx OKC Speaker Coach, and Ambassador Chairwoman for the Greater OKC Chamber of Commerce.