The 3-Dimensional Roles of Exceptional CEOs

Being a successful small business owner is about delivering results consistently through your products/services to those you serve. It demands a high level of coordination and execution of several key activities.

Exceptional CEO

These activities cannot be handled successfully by only one person over a long period of time without creating an operational structure/system. Being small is no excuse for wanting to be a one-man army. Someday soon, you will no longer be able to do all the things you so easily do now as a result of age, so what will become of your business then?

By then, you’ll suddenly realize that all your I-can-do-it-all-by-myself attitude as a self-employed entrepreneur is counterproductive. Then you will come to terms with the universal truth that one tree does not make up a forest and that one is too small a number to achieve greatness.

So there’s a need to create a working system/structure for your business. At the head of this structure/system, is where you must operate from as the owner of your business. And the formal title given to anyone occupying this position is Chief Executive Officer [CEO].

Your Role as the CEO of Your Small Business

In recent times, there seems to be a general misconception among many small business owners especially the self-employed internet entrepreneurs that the CEO title is for the bureaucratic corporate organizations and not for those who want to ‘do their own thing’.

The title CEO as corporate or bureaucratic as it may seem, comes with its own unique responsibilities and functions. Business is a team sport and every team needs a coach in order to be effective and successful. The CEO is the coach of a business. Having this consciousness is what makes successful business owners exceptional. They understand from the outset that being self-employed is limiting and from their small beginnings, they begin to lay the foundation for building a company that can operate without them.

Being a successful business owner is about performing certain functions. Performing these functions is what being a CEO is all about. Knowing these functions and carrying out the responsibilities of their corresponding roles is what makes your business potentially capable of producing exceptional results consistently.

The function supersedes the title or position. The title simply serves as an encapsulation of the fundamental functions and corresponding roles required of every business owner. This unusual article is about knowing what these fundamental functions are and their corresponding roles.

The 3-Dimensional Roles of Exceptional CEOs

A successful business owner is a three-dimensional business executive capable of producing exceptional business results through the combination and mastery of three key roles. The three-dimensional characteristic of an exceptional CEO enables him/her to achieve exceptional business results. Without his/her ability to effectively and efficiently balance these three-dimensional roles, the CEO will cease to be exceptional.

Being exceptional is not a function of genetics or talents, but more a function of learning and practice. Anyone willing to learn and practice can truly be exceptional. The word ‘exceptional’ is only used to describe the above normal (ab-normal) practices exhibited by certain business leaders which enables them attain exceptional heights in business. It doesn’t in anyway negate the fact that these leaders are still humans. It only suggests that ordinary people just like you can exhibit extraordinary or exceptional performance by learning, practicing and applying extraordinary principles.

The good news is that these extraordinary practices or principles can be learnt by anybody, thereby making the process of attaining exceptional business heights duplicable by anyone who chooses to know what they know and practice what they practiced.

So, becoming an exceptional CEO demands that you make a lifelong commitment to the learning, practicing and application of exceptional principles and habits. As Michael E. Gerber founder of the E-Myth Worldwide rightly said;

“Though your business may be very small, the job of an entrepreneur is very, very big. There are so many facets to it.”

Business leader


The focus and function of the exceptional CEO’s role as a leader stems from his character as an individual. Without sound character the CEO cannot function exceptionally as a leader. Leadership by itself is majorly concerned about inspiring and motivating people towards the fulfillment of a predetermined goal, aim or objective; this is often referred to as VISION.

A vision is a picture of a preferable future. It is a firm idea of where the exceptional CEO intends to lead his/her team to through exceptional business performance. The combination of character mixed with vision is what makes an ordinary person become an exceptional leader.

In other words, character is the foundation of leadership, while vision is the prerequisite for leading people and the essence of leadership. You cannot be in front if you don’t have a firm idea of where you’re going (vision) and you cannot inspire others to follow if you haven’t first led yourself (character).

Character makes you a leader, but you need vision to lead others and inspiring them to fulfill that vision is the job of a leader and the essence of leadership.


The focus and function of the exceptional CEO’s role as an entrepreneur stems from the central purpose of a business enterprise which is; the creation of customers through the provision of innovative goods/services that satisfies their needs and solves their problems.

Entrepreneurship is the role of the exceptional CEO charged with the responsibility of fulfilling the purpose of the business. In order to achieve this, the CEO has to possess three qualities; passion, creativity and taking risk that will enable him/her deliver change through innovation thereby fulfilling the purpose of a business enterprise. The development and mastery of these certain competencies is what the role of the exceptional CEO as an entrepreneur strives to achieve.

Creativity is the foundation of entrepreneurship, without it, the CEO as an entrepreneur cannot function exceptionally well by creating change through innovative products/services that allows the business to fulfill its purpose of creating customers by satisfying their needs and solving their problems.

Creativity makes you an entrepreneur and the creation of customers through the provision of innovative products/services in order to fulfill the purpose of a business, is the essence of entrepreneurship.


The focus and function of the exceptional CEO’s role as a manager stems from the need to efficiently organize and utilize the resources of the business towards the achievement of its vision and purpose. This requires the exceptional CEO as a manager to create a strategy that captures both the purpose and vision of the business enterprise. The essence of this strategy is then translated as the organization’s mission. The mission acts as a guide to enable the business know what to focus on as it carries out its day-to-day business operations. It serves as the operational map of the business.

In other words, mission is the business’ means to a predefined end. The mission basically answers these questions;

“How do we intend to do things around here that will enable us fulfill our purpose and vision?”

“How do we intend to approach this business in order to succeed in it?”

Mission says; “Since we know why we are in business (purpose) and know where we’re headed (vision),

“What key areas must we focus on in order to get there from here?”

“How do we intend to organize and utilize our available resources (means) in a manner that enables us achieve our ultimate objectives (end)?”

Strategy is the essence of management as it ensures the efficient organization and allocation of available resources towards the fulfillment of the business’ mission.

Over to you

What other secret ingredients would you consider essential to being an exceptional CEO?

What are the challenges you face as a business owner in playing each of these 3 roles?

Do you think the title of a CEO befits self-employed small business owners?

Share your thoughts with the community below.


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