What Are the Genuine Responsibilities of the CEO?

Andreu and Ricart provide a framework for managing today

14/01/2015 Barcelona

IESE Insight

Back when John Antioco, CEO of the video club Blockbuster, had the opportunity to acquire Netflix, he turned down the offer. Today, not a trace remains of Blockbuster, whereas Netflix’s market valuation is more than $20 billion.

Examples like this underscore the importance of senior managers’ decisions. There can be no understating the potential impact of the decisions and actions of senior management on a company’s performance. However, we still know comparatively little about how to strengthen their contributions.

To single out the CEO’s main priorities, Rafael Andreu, professor of Information Systems and Strategic Management at IESE, and Joan E. Ricart, director of the Strategic Management Department at IESE and holder of the Carl Schroeder Chair of Strategic Management, conducted hundreds of interviews with senior executives. Their article "The Genuine Responsibilities of the CEO" identifies four main priorities for general management, corresponding with four primary tasks.

These key areas include: focusing on the future; developing the business model; supporting the personal growth of members of the organization; and guaranteeing the consistency and fulfillment of the institutional strategy, which encompasses the company’s organizational principles, values and operational philosophy.

The authors stress that executives must understand and manage all these aspects as an inseparable whole of interdependent, highly dynamic elements.

They also emphasize that CEOs need to be disciplined in their decision-making, innovative in their work and responsible for their people. Ethics must be understood as an integral part of managerial duty and not as a last-minute add-on, as so many companies do with their corporate social responsibility programs.

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