Top executives typically do the following:
The responsibilities of top executives largely depend on an organization’s size. In small organizations, such as an independent retail store, an owner or manager often is responsible for hiring, training, quality control, and day-to-day supervisory duties. In large organizations, chief executives typically focus on formulating policies and planning strategies, while general and operations managers direct day-to-day operations.
The following are examples of types of top executives:
Chief executive officers (CEOs), who are also known by titles such as executive director, managing director, or president, provide overall direction for companies and organizations. CEOs manage company operations, formulate and implement policies, and ensure that goals are met. They collaborate with and direct the work of other top executives and typically report to a board of directors.
There may be other types of chief executives—such as chief operating officers (COOs), chief financial officers (CFOs), or chief human resources officers—who manage a specific part of the organization. The knowledge, skills, and job duties that these executives have differ, depending on which department they oversee.
General and operations managers oversee activities that are too diverse to be classified into one area of management or administration. Responsibilities may include formulating policies, directing daily operations, and planning the use of materials and human resources. These managers make staff schedules, assign work, and ensure that projects are completed. In some organizations, the tasks of chief executive officers may overlap with those of general and operations managers.
Mayors, city managers, county administrators, and governors are chief executive officers of governments. They usually oversee budgets, programs, and the use of resources. Mayors and governors must be elected to office, whereas managers and administrators are typically appointed.
School superintendents and college or university presidents are chief executive officers of school districts and postsecondary schools. They manage issues such as student achievement, budgets and resources, general operations, and relations with government agencies and other stakeholders.
Many top executives have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in an area related to their field of work. Top executives in the public sector may have a degree in business administration, public administration, law, or the liberal arts. Top executives of large corporations may have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA).
College presidents and school superintendents are typically required to have a master’s degree, although a doctorate is often preferred.
Although many mayors, governors, and other public sector executives have at least a bachelor’s degree, these positions typically do not have any specific education requirements.
Some top executive positions may require the applicant to have a license or certification relevant to their area of management. For example, some employers may require their chief executive officer to be a certified public accountant (CPA).