Chapter | Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice | 2010

What Is Leadership: The CEO's Role in Large, Complex Organizations

by Michael E. Porter and Nitin Nohria


What is the role of the CEO in a large, complex enterprise? What makes a CEO effective? At first blush, these questions seem easy to answer. A CEO is the epitome of leadership. He or she exercises ultimate power and is responsible for making the most critical choices facing an organization. However, these questions get far more complicated as one contemplates the realities of large organizations. Actually, the CEO cannot make most decisions, or even review them. The CEO is powerful, but multiple constituencies can exercise power as well, starting with the board. The shortening CEO tenure reveals that many leaders misunderstand the role and how to play it effectively.

Keywords: Decision Making; Leadership; Managerial Roles; Power and Influence;


Porter, Michael E., and Nitin Nohria. "What Is Leadership: The CEO's Role in Large, Complex Organizations." Chap. 16 in Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, edited by Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana. Harvard Business Press, 2010.