CEOs Need Job Descriptions Too!

“When he knows what he wants to do, let’s talk.” said the COO candidate.

The candidate was referring to the CEO of water industry client and had left the job interview interested but confused about his potential role in the company. It turns out that the CEO tried explaining the role in the conversation, alternating between elements that would be carved out of his responsibilities and other elements that were organizational needs. The messaging got muddled. The candidate could not clearly understand where his responsibilities would end and where the CEO’s would begin. 

This is not an uncommon problem and the solution is quite simple.

I asked the CEO to craft a job description for his current role, one for the COO role and another for his CEO role (post-COO hire). This exercise would help him clarify jobs for him and the COO, bringing clarity and accountability to the organization. 

I often joke that CEOs are people too! The reality is that CEOs need clear and accurate job descriptions, especially when it comes to hiring key executive team members. Without clear and explicit delineation of the role and responsibilities, it becomes too easy for a well-intentioned (or “mettling”, depending on perspective) CEO to undermine, demotivate, or derail their team members. 

This is especially true for founder CEOs.

The job they showed up for when they started the company may be vastly different after the company finds success and starts to scale. This is a new role that requires a different set of skills and abilities. Some Founders/CEOs have the desire and ability to adapt, while others don’t. 

When considering writing any job description, it’s important to keep in mind the relation of the job to others within the organization. Where does one job stop and another begin? Who “owns” versus “supports”? Ideally, an entire organization can be viewed through job descriptions. 

With this concept in mind, you might find value in writing out your own, current, job description. How does it compare to the role you were hired for and has your job changed over time? Perhaps make this an annual practice. If you get into the habit of doing this, then you should have no trouble outlining your role when you become a CEO!

Written byAustin Meyermann, Founder and President of Hunter Crown, LLC

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