What is it that a CEO does?

This is a very interesting and quite personal question for me right now, considering that I’m currently making the transition from being mainly a founder to being the CEO of Unified Inbox.

During this journey, I naturally ask myself this question on a regular basis. Often, the answer can be complex and long, but I wanted a simple mantra I could remember while sailing our “ship”. I think that most CEO’s can be compared to captains of boats and will have to do at least these three things exceptionally well in order to reach their destination:

  1. Set out a course! (where to, when, why, how) = Strategy.
    Whether they reach the same place or a different one is a secondary question. But the CEO has to set a course.
  2. What is needed to get there? (people, money, fun, food…) = Resources.
    This of course depends on the duration and the nature of the trip, but one should have at least a basic concept of the challenges that may occur along the way and which need to be overcome in order to reach. For this, resources are necessary and the CEO makes sure, that these resources are actually available.
  3. Is everybody “on board”? = Communication.
    Having resources without knowing how to use them can easily make them go to waste. A great CEO communicates well with everybody to make sure everybody “is on board”, both on and off the ship.

Whenever I get lost in the day to day business activities, long hours and stormy seas that a startup brings with it, I try to remember to do at least these three things well.

Not that it always works, but it’s a great signpost for me in this phase of my journey that I’d like to share with others. If you’re currently on a similar path, or, have even been there before, please share your own experiences in the comments, I’d be very interested to learn from them.

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