The Challenges of a CEO

Posted in: Blog, News.

A person sitting at a desk in front of a laptop, holding a pair of glasses

Last year we ran the Glasgow City Council Social Enterprise Accelerator programme aimed at Glasgow based Social Enterprises who were looking to expand their reach and generate new income streams. Our Business Adviser Gary McNairn led on the programme, and it proved to be a hit with our participants. What follows are his reflections on a recent ‘Meet the CEO’ session he held. If you want to learn more about the previous version of our Accelerator programme, check out Gary’s blog on it.

As part of this programme in December last year we held a ‘Meet The CEO’ Event where we invited senior leaders, directors and chief executive officers from a number of social enterprises to come together to discuss the challenges they have faced within their roles and how they overcame them with the participants of the Accelerator Programme. The purpose of this event was to establish common connection between social enterprise leaders and showcase the successes that await when the right strategies are in place.

During this event it was evident that the role of a CEO is no doubt a challenging job bearing endless responsibilities, and within the social enterprise sector this role can mean you’re at the helm of a multitude of challenges and competing priorities simultaneously.

Steering the Ship is Not Without Difficulty

As a social enterprise CEO, your role is to provide clear leadership that supports your organisation to deliver on your vision and mission whilst being a passionate and motivational advocate for your cause. This is a broad description of the job role, and on the surface seems fairly simple…right? But CEOs are also responsible for spinning several other plates such as developing and delivering the organisations operational plan, being accountable to the board of directors for your organisation’s performance, building income streams, fundraising, managing staff teams and ensuring policies and practises are up to date, relevant and fair in today’s ever evolving world…the list goes on.

During our event we heard from CEO’s on the many challenges they faced, however I must say that everyone of them, no matter how tough these challenges seemed, all had one thing in common and that was endless passion for their organisation and the causes which they serve….for me that seems the be the key ingredient to leading a successful social enterprise. From passion comes drive, and from drive we adapt, evolve and commit ourselves to do what it takes to get results.

Interestingly most of our speakers highlighted similar challenges such as stagnant boards, boards of trustees who had lost their passion for the organisation or who could not commit enough time to help the organisations to grow and develop. Financial security was also high on the list with many of our speakers advising this was one of their key focuses and as Third Sector leaders they have implemented new income streams to overcome the unpredictability of funding.

Speaking from an organisation whose vision is to make Scotland a better place to live and work I feel that a motivated board and financial security within any organisation is key to a happy and healthy workforce, and a happy and healthy workforce creates impact!

Helping You to Overcome the Challenges

There is no set algorithm for leading a successful social enterprise, but there are tried and tested methods, approaches and experienced individuals who can lend a supporting hand to help CEOs to clear the pathway, develop a clear vision and strategy, as long as the CEO can bring the passion and willingness to learn and make change. After all, nothing changes…if nothing changes!

Within CEIS we have a team of advisers who are experienced in a variety of different business functions and can support social enterprise leaders to overcome these challenges and develop their board of trustees, generate new income streams, develop operational strategies, increase audience and gain stability for the organisation. All of this equates to the most important factor, your reason for being where you are, our reason for being where we are…impact! We believe that financially secure, motivated social enterprises lead to greater impacts within the communities we serve and contributes to making Scotland a better place to live and work.

If you would like to know more about the business support the CEIS offer, including support to CEOs, get in touch with us today. We would be more than happy to assess your needs and make sure you get the support you need.



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