A successful Fortune 500 CEO is able to set clear and logical priorities. If you're at the top, you have to consider who it is you have to answer to. Is it shareholders, board members, customers? Who are your key clients? What kind of people invest in your company? What is it they want to achieve? The answers to these questions should help you identify your most important goals and prioritize them. A successful CEO must be able to communicate the company's vision to everyone: employees, stockholders, and customers.
Once you have your corporate goals prioritized, it's time to set specific objectives, just as you did back in the day when your job search was the next step toward corporate success. What level of revenue growth and sales growth will you aim for? How will your company keep costs in line? What is your target stock price in six months? Keep in mind that your bonus grows as the company performs. Your base salary may not be much compared to what you could get in bonuses tied to the business's success.
As CEO you know that your company isn't a static entity. New clients and investors are important, and it's your job to make your company look as inviting as possible. Your "people skills" are very important here. There are many opportunities for you to advertise your company by word of mouth at professional conferences, on the golf course, or even at the gym. This can also mean opportunities to find out what the competition is up to. Knowing who is happily ensconced in their corner office and who is dissatisfied and starting a quiet job search on the side is very valuable to your company.
And speaking of competition, part of your job is to keep on top of corporate trends by participating in trade meetings and technical conferences. In the fast-moving field of technology, this is absolutely necessary to avoid being left behind. You have to learn to separate corporate "fads" from real trends so that you can capitalize on genuine opportunities. Is your competition's head of research starting a job search? For that matter, is your head of research starting a job search? Know the trends, the fads, who in upper management is happy, and who is not.
Part of your job is to keep your corporate costs under control. To do this, you first have to know where money is going and where it is being spent efficiently and inefficiently. One of the greatest things about the internet age is the amount of corporate travel it cuts down on. You can now sit "face to face" with your clients in Hong Kong or Omaha with the help of your computer and hash out problems you would have hopped on a plane for ten or twenty years ago. You shouldn't forgo person to person interaction altogether, but there is bound to be unnecessary junketing that can be trimmed painlessly.
In the U.S. sooner or later you will have to face the reality of providing (or not providing) health and medical benefits. This can be one of the stickiest situations you can find yourself in: determining whether to make major changes to employee health insurance benefits. Whether it works better for your company to offer several choices in plans or whether it is better to offer the same plan to all employees depends on your company's situation: number of workers; age of workers; general health of workers; and family sizes. Keep in mind that for some employees on the edge of jumping ship, it could be your company's health benefits that prevents them from commencing a full on job search.
But even though you will be involved in the decision making about things like health care benefits, that doesn't mean that you should micromanage the company. Though you understand how the day to day activities fit together like parts of a machine, you must feel that you have a capable management team that can make sure that their parts of the corporate machine are well oiled and working properly. That way you can remain focused on your goals of increasing revenues and meeting long term goals.
Which is harder, climbing through the ranks to the level of CEO, or actually being a good CEO? Even those with the director jobs aren't always sure that the two tasks are separate. The traits that make a person rise through the corporate ranks, things like extremely hard work, great communication skills, and excellent people skills are much the same traits that a successful CEO must bring to work every day.