Chief executive officer
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A chief executive officer (CEO) is the highest-ranking corporate officer (executive) or administrator in charge of total management of an organization. An individual appointed as a CEO of a corporation, company, organization, or agency typically reports to the board of directors. In British English, terms often used as synonyms for CEO are managing director (MD) and chief executive (CE). In American English, the title executive director (ED) is sometimes used for non-profit organizations.
The responsibilities of an organization's CEO (chief executive officer,US) or MD (managing director, UK) are set by the organization's board of directors or other authority, depending on the organization's legal structure. They can be far-reaching or quite limited and are typically enshrined in a formal delegation of authority.
Typically, the CEO/MD has responsibilities as a director, decision maker, leader, manager and executor. The communicator role can involve the press and the rest of the outside world, as well as the organization's management and employees; the decision-making role involves high-level decisions about policy and strategy. As a leader of the company, the CEO/MD advises the board of directors, motivates employees, and drives change within the organization. As a manager, the CEO/MD presides over the organization's day-to-day operations.
According to a study by Carola Frydman of MIT, from 1936 to the early 2000s there has been a rapid increase in the share of MBA graduates acting as CEOs; from approximately 10% of CEOs in 1960 to more than 50% by the end of the century. Earlier in the century, top executives were more likely to have obtained technical degrees in science and engineering or law degrees.
In some European Union countries, there are two separate boards, one executive board for the day-to-day business and one supervisory board for control purposes (selected by the shareholders). In these countries, the CEO presides over the executive board and the chairman presides over the supervisory board, and these two roles will always be held by different people. This ensures a distinction between management by the executive board and governance by the supervisory board. This allows for clear lines of authority. The aim is to prevent a conflict of interest and too much power being concentrated in the hands of one person.
In the United States, the board of directors (elected by the shareholders) is often equivalent to the supervisory board, while the executive board may often be known as the executive committee (the division/subsidiary heads and C-level officers that report directly to the CEO).
In other parts of the world, such as Asia, it is possible to have two or three CEOs in charge of one corporation. In the UK, many charities and government agencies are headed by a chief executive who answers to a board of trustees or board of directors. In the UK, similar to a sizable percentage of public companies in the US, the chairman of the board in public companies is more senior than the chief executive (who is usually known as the managing director).
The following presents an alphabetical list of some international common terms for the CEO position:
- Albanian: Administrator i Përgjithshëm
- Afrikaans: Besturende Direkteur
- Arabic: الرئيس التنفيذي ar-Ra’īs at-Tanfīdhī (Chief Executive)
- Armenian: Գլխավոր տնօրեն glkhavor tnoren
- Australia: general manager (GM) (or also managing director (MD), but only when the executive officeholder is also a member of the board of directors)
- Azerbaijani: Baş İcraçı Direktor
- Belarusian: Генеральны дырэктар
- Bengali: মহাপরিচালক/ব্যবস্থাপনা পরিচালক/প্রধান নির্বাহী কর্মকর্তা (Director General/GM/MD/CEO)
- Bosnian: Generalni direktor / Izvršni direktor
- Bulgarian: Генерален директор / Изпълнителен директор Generalen direktor/Izpalnitelen direktor
- Catalan: Executiu en cap (Chief Executive)
- Chinese: 首席执行官 / 行政總裁 Shǒuxí zhíxíng guān / xíngzhèng zǒngcái (Chief Executive Officer)
- Croatian: Izvršni direktor
- Czech: Generální ředitel/Výkonný ředitel
- Danish: Administrerende direktør (administrating director) (adm.dir.)
- Dutch: Algemeen Directeur (general manager)
- Estonian: Tegevdirektor (executive director)
- Finnish: Toimitusjohtaja (executive director) (TJ)
- French: Président-directeur général (chairman & chief executive) (PDG)
- Galician: Director Executivo / Director xeral
- German: Geschäftsführer (GmbH) or German: Vorstand (AG, Germany; member of the management board) or German: Vorstandsvorsitzender, German: Vorstandssprecher (AG, Germany; chairman, speaker of the management board)
- Georgian: გენერალური დირექტორი (General director)
- Greek: Διευθύνων Σύμβουλος Diefthinon Symvoulos (Managing Director)
- Hebrew: מנכ"ל/מנהל כללי Mankal/Menahel Klali (DG/Director General)
- Hungarian: ügyvezető igazgató
- Icelandic: Forstjóri / Framkvæmdastjóri
- Hindi: मुख्य कार्यकारी अधिकारी
- India: CEO or managing director (MD)
- Indonesian: Presiden Direktur (Presdir) or, increasingly less common, Direktur Utama (Dirut) Direktur-Direksi (term based on Law nr. 40 / 2007)
- Irish: Príomhoifigeach Feidhmiúcháin (POF)
- Italian: Amministratore Delegato (delegated administrator) (AD)
- Japanese: 最高経営責任者 Saikō-keiei-sekinin-sha (Chief Executive Officer)
- Kannada: ಮುಖ್ಯಕಾರ್ಯನಿರ್ವಾಹಣಾಧಿಕಾರಿಗಳು
- Kazakh: атқарушы директор atkarushy director (Chief Executive Officer)
- Korean: 최고경영책임자 choe-go-gyeong-young-chek-ime-ja (Chief Executive Officer) or often 최고경영인 /chwae-go+gyoung-young+in/ meaning: chwae-go(Chief) gyoung-young(Managing) in(Person)
- Kurdish: Serokê/a Pêkanîna Civatê
- Latvian: Valdes priekšsēdētājs (chairman of the board)
- Lithuanian: Generalinis direktorius (general director)
- Macedonian: Извршен директор (izvrshen direktor - executive director) or also Macedonian: Генерален директор (generalen direktor - general director)
- Malay: Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif, Pengarah Urusan, Pengarah Eksekutif
- Maltese: Kap eżekuttiv (Chief Executive)
- Marathi: मुख्य कार्यकारी अधिकारी
- Mongolian: Ерөнхий захирал, Ерөнхийлөгч, Гүйцэтгэх захирал
- Nepali: प्रमुख कार्यकारी अधिकृत
- Norwegian: Administrerende Direktør (administrating director) (adm. dir.)
- Persian: مدیر عامل Modir Aamel (Chief Executive)
- Polish: Dyrektor Generalny / Prezes Zarządu (general director), (president)
- Portuguese: Diretor executivo / Diretor-geral / Presidente / Administrador-delegado
- Romanian: Director General
- Russian: Генеральный директор (generalniy direktor – general director)
- Serbian: Генерални директор / Извршни директор (управник)
- Sinhala: ප්රධාන විධායක නිලධාරී / කළමනාකාර අධ්යක්ෂක (CEO / MD)
- Slovak: Generálny riaditeľ
- Slovene: Generalni direktor / Izvršni direktor
- Spanish: director ejecutivo, director general, gerente general o consejero delegado (executive director)
- Somali: Maamule Guud / Agaasime (CEO / MG)
- Swahili: Meneja Mkuu
- Swedish: Verkställande direktör (VD)
- Tamil: தலைமை நிறைவேற்று அலுவலர் / முகாமைத்துவ இயக்குநர் (CEO / MD)
- Telugu: ముఖ్య కార్యనిర్వాహక అధికారి / నిర్వాహకుడు (CEO / MD)
- Thai: ประธานบริหาร / กรรมการผู้จัดการ (CEO / MD)
- Tagalog: Punong Tagapagpaganap (CEO / PT)
- Turkish: Genel Müdür, Genel Yönetmen, Yönetim Kurulu Başkanı
- Ukrainian: Головний виконавчий директор (Holovnyi vykonavchyi dyrektor - Head executive director), also Генеральний директор (Heneral'nyi dyrektor – General director)
- Urdu: منیجنگ ڈائرکٹر Manajing Dierektar (Managing Director / MD)
- Vietnamese: Giám đốc điều hành
In the United States, and in business, the executive officers are usually the top officers of a corporation, the chief executive officer (CEO) being the best-known type. The definition varies; for instance, the California Corporate Disclosure Act defines "Executive Officers" as the five most highly compensated officers not also sitting on the board of directors. In the case of a sole proprietorship, an executive officer is the sole proprietor. In the case of a partnership, an executive officer is a managing partner, senior partner, or administrative partner. In the case of a limited liability company, an executive officer is any member, manager or officer.
In the US the term "chief" is a for-profit title use exclusively in business, the term "executive director" replaces chief in the not-for-profit sector. These terms are mutually exclusive and have legal duties and responsibilities attached to them which are incompatible. Implicit in the use of these titles is that the public not be misled and the general standard regarding their use be consistently applied.
In the UK "Chief Executive" and, much more rarely "Chief Executive Officer", are used in both business and the charitable sector (not-for-profit sector). The use of the term [director] is now deprecated for senior charity staff, to avoid confusion with the legal duties and responsibilities associated with being a charity director or trustee, which are normally non-executive (unpaid) roles.
Typically, a CEO has several subordinate executives, each of whom has specific functional responsibilities.
Common associates include a chief business development officer (CBDO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief operating officer (COO), chief marketing officer (CMO), chief information officer (CIO), chief communications officer (CCO), chief legal officer (CLO), chief technology officer (CTO), chief risk officer (CRO), chief creative officer (CCO), chief compliance officer (CCO), chief audit executive (CAE), chief diversity officer (CDO), or chief human resources officer (CHRO).
In the United Kingdom the term 'director' is used instead of 'chief officer'. Associates include the audit executive, business development director, chief executive, compliance director, creative director, director of communications, diversity director, financial director, human resources director, information technology director, legal affairs director, managing director (MD), marketing director, operations director and technical director.
- CEO succession
- Executive officer
- List of books written by CEOs
- List of chief executive officers
- Occupational Information Network
- United States Department of Labor
- Professional English in Use – Finance, Ian MacKenzie, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p.16
- "Chief Executive Definition from Financial Times Lexicon". Lexicon.ft.com. Retrieved 2012-11-28.
- Capstone Publishing (2003). The Capstone Encyclopaedia of Business. Oxford, U.K.: Capstone Publishing. pp. 79–80. ISBN 1-84112-053-7.
- Bertrand, Marianne (2012), "CEOs", Annual Review of Economics (Annual Reviews): 121–150, doi:10.1146/annurev.economics.050708.143301
- "Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations". Acevo.org.uk. 2012-11-16. Retrieved 2012-11-28.
- Markus Menz (2011-10-04). "Menz, M. 2012. Functional Top Management Team Members: A Review, Synthesis, and Research Agenda. Journal of Management, 38(1): 45-80". Jom.sagepub.com. Retrieved 2012-11-28.
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