The role of the CEO on the association’s board
By Justin Sachs
As a CEO, your job is to manage the day-to-day operations of your team. But when you move to the boardroom, you must focus on the overall goals of the organization.
Appropriately managing the roles and responsibilities between the C-suite (the slang term used to refer to the senior executives whose titles tend to start with the letter C—as in chief executive officer, chief operating officer, etc.) and the board is key to ensuring the success and growth of an organization. When transitioning between the two leadership roles, a CEO must switch gears from daily operations, individual goals, and financial results to strategic planning, company vision, and long-term revenue.
1. Day-to-Day Management vs. High-Level Oversight
As the CEO, your job is to lead your team to meet the outcomes and objectives of the company on a daily basis. You must oversee the marketing and sales teams to ensure the company is generating consistent growth, and you must manage the operations team to ensure regulations are being followed and customer expectations are being met consistently. When transitioning to boardroom leadership, your priority must be the overall strategic plan for optimizing the growth of the business. Not only do your responsibilities change, but your leadership style must shift as well. In the boardroom, you are a member of a collaborative team on which no single person makes a decision—that’s done by the group. As an executive, individual decision-making is obviously much more appropriate within your given domain (CFO makes financial decisions, CEO makes companywide decisions, CMO makes marketing decisions, etc.), and thus it’s important to differentiate between the two.
2. Team Leadership vs. Thought Leadership
In the C-suite, your focus must be on leading and supporting your team to accomplish the goals and outcomes set forth by the board of directors. The way you communicate with your employees, implement the systems set forth within the organization, and maximize productivity are paramount. In transitioning to the boardroom, your ability to create new ideas for growth, influence the board members with your ideas, and communicate those ideas to the C-suite for implementation are critical to the company’s success. While operations are your focus in the C-suite, overall customer experience, profitability, and long-term growth of the business should be your focus in the boardroom.
3. Financial Oversight
As CEO, you must influence your team’s ability to stay on track with the financial goals of the organization every day. The board of directors’ focus, however, is on the quarterly and annual revenue goals and ensuring that the CEO is set up to effectively meet those daily financial outcomes. On the board, your focus must shift from day-to-day revenue to ensuring that the longer-term revenue and financial goals stay on track.
Justin Sachs is a business and marketing expert and CEO of Motivational Press, an industry-leading book-publishing company.
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