What is CEO?

CEO stands for Chief Executive Officer. This title is usually used to designate the sole CEO of a company. The description “managing director” is also widespread. However, this is problematic.

According to abbreviationfinder, the term CEO comes from the Anglo-Saxon language area and describes the leading member of the management or the board of directors. In smaller companies, the head of the company bears this title himself. In the German-speaking world, it was adopted in the course of the internationalization of many companies, but it is legally meaningless in this country. Companies are therefore free to choose who will act as CEO. It is similar in many countries, which is why there is inconsistency in the assignment internationally.


It is undisputed that the CEO is at the top of the operational management of a company. In German management, however, it can be the case that the managing director has his own core area of ​​responsibility. For example, he is mainly responsible for finances or day-to-day operations.

In Anglo-Saxon countries there are separate names for this role, Chief Financial Officer, or CFO for short, and Chief Operating Officer, or COO for short. However, they are subordinate in the hierarchy. A one-to-one translation of the title is therefore often not permitted.

Responsibilities of the CEO

CEOs have two classic areas of responsibility that can easily be combined with other responsibilities – which also explains the inconsistency of the assignments. First, they work out the strategic orientation of a company. Secondly, they determine the position on the market in comparison to the competition – to put it simply: the CEO is the highest decision-making authority in management. Depending on the company, he is accountable to the board of directors, the supervisory board and/or the board of directors.

The CEO in non-profit companies

CEOs have also increasingly found their way into non-profit companies and organizations in recent years. Here, however, the title is mainly awarded as an honorary award. For example, the oldest employee or the person who has worked for the organization the longest gets it.

What is CEO