Role of the CEO

Making the decision to have a chief executive is important for a lot of sports organisations, particularly in the case of remuneration.

The role of a chief executive is to deliver the strategic plan, coordinate an operational plan and essentially manage the day-to-day running of an organisation. This will involve the management of staff or volunteers. It is a complex role that requires navigation between visionary leadership on the one hand and effective management on the other hand.

In small organisations there is usually no paid chief executive role as management most often falls to the board members which can result in a confusion between the strategic role a board should play and the operational role that a management or executive function should play.

It is recommended that if there is no money to appoint a chief executive, an organisation should assign the responsibilities of that role to someone within the organisation.

Where a sports organisation does have a chief executive, many board delegate day-to-day liaison with the chief executive to an individual board member – usually the chair.

The relationship between the board and chief executive will have a strong bearing on the ability of both parties to carry out their work and ultimately on the effectiveness of the organisation. Poor relationships can lead to conflict and be damaging to the whole organisation.

A healthy relationship between the board and the chief executive should be one where:

  • good working relationships are maintained in general between the board and chief executive and in particular between the chair (or other individual) and chief executive
  • clear boundaries exist – board members do not interfere in work that has been properly delegated to the chief executive and/or any other staff
  • The board is engaged in holding the chief executive to account for their day-to-day management of the organisation.

Below are some sample job descriptions for chief executives and on other pages in this section you can find further tools to help you decide on the role of your chief executive and the relationship that should exist between this role and your board.

How to repair the relationship between CEO and chair should it have broken down.
Example: CEO job description from Volleyball England.
Example: CEO job description from Boccia England.
Example: CEO job description from Welsh Netball.
Example: CEO job description from the British Triathlon Federation.

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