CEO Definition and Meaning

“New CEO for XYZ AG” – We read this and similar news every day. In the meantime, we also come across CEOs again and again on job fairs. What exactly is the abbreviation all about and what does it actually take to become a CEO, for example?

CEO, CFO, COO – not only international, but now also many German companies have these titles on their executive floors. In the following, we explain where the title CEO comes from, what it means, etc.

What is a CEO?

Like the other chief titles, the abbreviation CEO originally comes from the USA and eventually found its way to us in the course of globalization.

According to abbreviationfinder, CEO stands for Chief Executive Officer. True to its name, the Chief Executive Officer is the governing body and thus usually the head of the company. The executive board member or the chairman of the board often bears the abbreviation. In the same way, general directors, presidents or chairmen often use this abbreviation. Typically, the strategic goals are set by the CEO, but he/she does not execute them himself. The management also bears the entire responsibility for the decisions of a company.

Just like the other chief officer titles, the chief executive officer is purely a functional description; the title has no legal relevance in German-speaking countries.

Tasks of the CEO – What does a managing director do?

As a chief executive officer, one typically oversees the bottom line on all strategic and business aspects of the company. In short, as the highest-ranking manager, you are responsible for the vision and the strategic direction.

Apart from that, a CEO can have the following tasks:

  • Development and assurance of high quality business strategies and plans,
  • leadership and motivation of employees,
  • Formation of a high-performing leadership team,
  • Monitoring of all business operations and activities to ensure desired results are achieved,
  • investment decisions,
  • Ensuring compliance with legal and internal company guidelines,
  • Reviewing financial and non-financial reports to find solutions or optimizations,
  • building relationships with important partners,
  • Analysis of problematic events and situations.


In addition to a degree in business administration or law (in the best case, exceptions now confirm the rule here too), the following qualities are welcome for the position of Chief Executive Officer:

  • a strong sense of purpose,
  • entrepreneurial mindset,
  • strategic foresight,
  • great sense of responsibility,
  • many years of experience (also internationally),
  • very good communication skills,
  • social skills,
  • and last but not least, determination.

CEO – In line with the other “Chiefs”

The Chief Executive Officer is repeatedly mentioned in a row with other Chief Officers in order to appropriately define the role of the bearer or bearer in the company. By the way, the other most common job titles are:

  • CFO
  • CHRO
  • CIO
  • CKO
  • CMO
  • COO
  • CRO
  • CTO

CEO Definition

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