skip to Main Content
How to be a Pure CEO

The CEO “Job Description”

By Paulo L. Teixeira

When you first start a business, being a CEO literally means being a Chief “Everything” Officer. You personally have to navigate most aspects of sales, collections, financing, payables, preparing your own PowerPoint presentations, and even making copies and coffee! The boardroom, the office, and often the kitchen table are one and the same. It is both exhilarating and exhausting, with many days of frustration offset by a few unforgettable and energizing wins.

Hopefully, your business then grows, and you progressively add staff to share the growing number of activities while you focus on “the important stuff.” But what is that? What should a now Chief Executive Officer concentrate on and what should she or he delegate? How should the CEO be spending his or her time? Of course, especially as the business grows but has not yet achieved mid-size (a yardstick here is $50 to $100 million in sales but note that some businesses can have mid-size complexity before achieving that sales benchmark), the CEO will still be derailed from his job description and periodically get in the weeds. It might be helpful to think through how a pure CEO should be spending time. My take is that the CEO job description is simple, albeit hard to execute. The pure CEO should focus on the following 4 things, and 4 things only.


What is the next overall step for the business? How long should I allow to get there? What happens if we miss the target? Does the board (whatever form that takes, from other family members to a formal board of independent advisors and anything in between) support the strategy?


Do I have the team to execute the strategy? Where do I need reinforcements? Who do I need to deboard? Does the team know how they are going to share in the success? Am I listening to the team enough?

Messaging & Culture

It has been said that “culture is the boss when the boss is not around.” Think of it as the operating system for the business. It is how your company does things and the values that define it. Are the business values clear? Are they shared by all or most? Are they rewarded and repeated enough? Are they a living example of how you want behaviors to be? How and how often are they reinforced?

Risk Management

What can go wrong? How fast? What is the playbook for those instances? This goes way beyond having the right insurance policies in place (obviously also very important).


Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it is very hard. Why? Because a pure CEO does not exist. No matter the size of your company, the day-to-day hustle infinitely distracts us or demands our time and attention. Temptation is always present. Remember, every time we catch ourselves doing something that is not one of the 4 missions of the pure CEO, we are really doing someone else’s job. And the more time we spend doing someone else’s job, the less time we are spending on what really matters as CEOs of our companies. Time is finite and how we spend it in the business is a clear predictor of success or failure. I challenge all of us to be as pure of a CEO as we possibly can. Success will follow.

Interested in learning more? Contact us here.

Back To Top