68 CEO Responsibilities

Posted by Robert Norton on

This is a great list for both taking on a new CEO position and getting up to speed, as well as to develop a proactive development and learning program for any CEO or senior executive wishing to improve their executive management skills. It lays out well all the things you need to juggle when you have both the privilege and responsibilities of the top spot in any organization.

General Operations

1. Establish primary goals of the Board -- maintenance of status quo, evaluation, and recommendations or take charge through the implementation of the new game plan.
2. Meet all first-reports, introduce the game plan and initiate implementation of action items on this list.
3. Have all first-reports complete the Agenda for the Future.
4. Discuss the dozen biggest problems and opportunities from the perspective of all first-reports.
5. If survival mode is required, cut costs immediately where necessary and prudent and in accordance with the Board's short and intermediate-term goals.
6. Identify and implement the top six action items that could measurably increase short-term revenues.
7. In addition to this action list, formulate a short-term game plan for the company, get board approval and communicate the plan to key personnel, suppliers, lenders, etc.
8. Prioritize the top ten action items for the whole company and begin implementation.
9. Identify top goals for the company for the current month, quarter, and year.

Financial Issues

10. Within the first week, get current detailed financial statements, itemized payroll, payables, and receivables list.
11. Review budgets of all departments or divisions for reasonableness of assumptions, quality of projections, and relevancy in light of recent corporate changes and goals.
12. Evaluate obviously, and not so obvious, problems and strengths revealed by the financial statements.
13. Do realistic cash forecasts for the next 90 and 180-day periods.
14. Evaluate asset utilization and re-deploy if appropriate and prudent in the short term.

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Liabilities / Risks / Time Bombs

15. Deal with the six largest crises within the first three weeks.
16. Review banking and debt obligations for the next 90, 180, and 365 day periods and ensure no technical or major defaults, if possible. If in default, develop a game plan and/or negotiate a workout.
17. Determine which critical suppliers have suspended support due to lack of payment, or other problems.
18. Identify and take steps to immediately defuse all visible, or suspected, ticking time bombs.

Regulatory / Legal / Litigation

19. Ensure all payroll taxes are paid and properly reported.
20. Determine what, if any, problems exist with the IRS and state agencies.
21. Ensure the company is in compliance with all required regulatory and licensing agencies, etc. and if not, take action to resolve these issues.
22. Identity all outstanding legal issues and litigation risks along with probable, and possible, associated costs.
23. Ensure no securities law violations have occurred -- and if they have, take immediate steps to remedy them, or mitigate their impact.
24. Ensure any patents, trade secrets, trademarks and copyrights are properly filed and appropriate protections are in place.

Product lines / Marketing / Sales / Distribution

25. Analyze product delivery schedules and takes steps to improve meeting commitment dates.
26. Evaluate product development timetables, budget forecasts, and quality of project management systems, procedures, and controls.
27. Evaluate sales, marketing, distribution, forecasts, and trend lines for improvement opportunities in all areas, so as to generate more cash in the short-term.
28. Identify both the best customers and the most unhappy customers, as well as the company's image in the marketplace.
29. Complete competitive analysis for each product line.
30. Evaluate pricing models for each product line and adjust accordingly.
31. Identify product line strengths and weaknesses and develop a short-term action plan to solve the most glaring problems.
32. Identify potential products -- 6, 12, and 24 months into the future -- and their possible impact on revenue and expenses.
33. Establish / update / expand web presence.
34. Evaluate expenditures and effectiveness of marketing and advertising for media, trade shows, market research, focus groups, and public relations and adjust accordingly.
35. Evaluate sales force, sales-related incentives, sales targets, sales personnel training, special offers, dealerships, telemarketing, and sales support.
36. Evaluate and optimize short-term inventory.
37. Evaluate customer / technical support, warranties, guarantees, and after-sales service.

Personnel Issues

38. Upon arrival, candidly communicate with all company personnel for introduction and conveyance of immediate game plan.
39. Set up suggestion boxes, and invite anonymous email, to gain insight into less obvious underlying problems.
40. Review major Human Resource department aspects of the company for legal compliance, the competitiveness of benefits package, diversity, clarity of policies, and potential cost savings.
41. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of all first reports.
42. Develop 30/60/90 day performance plans for all first reports.
43. Evaluate organizational structure and effectiveness -- and reorganize if appropriate, adjusting total payroll if necessary.
44. Identify best and worst five percent of employees in the company -- probably replacing the worst five percent and ensuring the best five percent are motivated enough to stay.
45. Analyze employee turnover rates to identify fundamental problem areas.
46. Identify key personnel and unfilled job functions, define criteria, and initiate a search, within budget constraints.
47. Identify personality issues/company policies that may be creating a negative impact on company morale and productivity.
48. Review / modify written delegation of authority for all first reports.
49. Review all employment contracts or agreements, oral or written, including any severance or termination compensation agreements with salaried, hourly, or collective bargaining employees.
50. Review all bonus, deferred compensation, stock option, profit sharing, retirement programs, or plans covering salaried, hourly, or collective bargaining employees.

IPO / Merger / Acquisition / Disposition / Dissolution

51. Identify which mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, and investments make the most sense for the company.
52. Identify the growth issues regarding acquisitions, spin-offs, expansion, downsizing, establishing new, and/or closing existing branches and stores.
53. If the decision is to sell the company, establish price and terms, subject to Board approval, prepare sales summary and develop game plan and methodology for sale.
54. Complete three-year pro forma, based on realistic assumptions, to determine future valuation potential of company and likelihood of IPO or merger/acquisition potential.
55. If Board's decision is to dissolve the company, develop a game plan for liquidation of assets and/or follow up on bankruptcy filing.

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General / Administrative

56. Evaluate and control travel, entertainment, and all discretionary expenditures and implement new written policies for these issues.
57. Review facilities and real estate issues, including a review of current lease requirements.
58. Review all equipment leases for cost-cutting / improved technology opportunities.
59. Create/update business plan for current internal clarity and banking or capital formation needs.
60. "Manage by roaming around" -- gaining insights into attitudes and problem areas from within all levels of the organization.
61. Evaluate in-place systems and procedures and streamline where appropriate.
62. Evaluate technology implementation and optimize within budget constraints.
63. Visit all branch offices and evaluate their needs, performance, personnel, and cost-effectiveness.

Stockholder Status / Investor Relations

64. Evaluate investor and stockholder relations and communication status and initiate appropriate action.
65. Generate updated lists of all current shareholders and percentage ownership of each.
66. Review stock options or purchase plans and agreements, as well as lists of outstanding warrants and options, including date of grant, exercise price, number of shares subject to the option, and date of exercise.

The Next Steps

67. Report to the Board: the objective status, evaluation, recommended modifications to the short-term game plan, and any cash needs.
68. Pick up the sword again, and implement an updated and approved game plan.

The source of this article is unknown, as I could not find where I got it, but I believe it was provided by an accounting firm. I will attribute credit if and when I can find this information.


Bob Norton is a long-time Serial Entrepreneur and CEO with four exits that returned over $1 billion to investors. He has trained, coached and advised over 1,000 CEOs since 2002. And is Founder of The CEO Boot Camp™ and Entrepreneurship University™. Mr. Norton works with companies to triple their chances of success in launching new companies and products. And helps established companies scale faster using the six AirTight Management™ systems. And helps companies successfully raise capital.

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