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CEO vs MD: Going head-to-head

23rd Feb 2023

What would you say are the main differences between an MD and CEO in terms of their key responsibilities?

The CEO designs the overall strategy and creates the overarching vision of an organisation. An MD, on the other hand, generally oversees the implementation of the strategy and works to align employees with the company’s long-term goals to ensure the business operations run fairly, effectively and efficiently. The two positions work hand in hand but are quite distinct.

How have both roles evolved in recent years?

The historical approach from CEO’s and MD’s is no longer suitable in the 21st-century, post-pandemic world of business. It has indeed become clear that these roles need to adapt the way they develop their strategies, lead their companies, and think about their roles and responsibilities within the organisation.

What technical skills and personal qualities are required for the roles of MD and CEO?

A CEO or MD of the future needs to know how to work with data and make decisions based on fact not just gut. Also, leaders nowadays are required to take a more ‘human approach’ that requires emotional intelligence and self-awareness, with an ability to recognise abilities (own and others), engage, inspire and motivate the people who are key to your business.

What are the main challenges currently associated with recruiting for senior leadership roles?

The pace of acceleration of business has increased exponentially, which makes for challenges recruiting into senior leadership roles. Companies are needing to automate and go digital; the pandemic fuelled and demanded this. Today, you can quickly access massive amounts of unstructured data and the access to that data has never been easier. All of these factors that are leading to this acceleration of business, has made recruiting for executives that much harder. The speed at which these businesses can grow increases the amount of opportunities available for talent but the talent supply isn’t increasing as quickly.

In our experience as mid-market talent acquisition experts, we combine unrivalled best practice search techniques, highly experienced researchers and market knowledge with a deep understanding of our clients’ businesses to find the best talent, on a permanent and interim basis. The best and most capable emerging leaders are typically doing a good and well-paid job, so the proposition has to be good to tempt them away from their current role or even tempt them to agree to spend time discussing the brief for a new role. This is exactly why an organised process conducted by an established executive search recruiter, provides the best approach for a successful hire and often the only way to tempt the top 10% of candidates to consider a move. Where a market is stifled for new talent, a proficient recruiter will also look across industry sectors to encourage the most capable talent to migrate and bring best practice to the new sector. Our vast experience and knowledge of the market shows that where a client has managed their own process, it is less likely to be able to achieve similar success.

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