Chairman vs. President: What’s the Difference?

  • By: Adam Wire
  • August 9, 2023
chairman vs. president
Reading Time: 4 minutes

At the heart of every successful organization lies a well-defined corporate structure. This framework outlines the hierarchy, roles, and responsibilities of key individuals who steer the organization toward its goals. 

Knowing the differences in corporate structure is critical to understanding the contrasting roles of the chairman and the president within an organization. In addition, board meeting management software has revolutionized corporate governance, including how the chairman and the president conduct meetings, manage agendas, and facilitate decision-making.

What is a Chairman?

A chairman, chairperson, or chair is the presiding officer of a board of directors or committee. The responsibilities and powers of the chairman vary depending on the organization’s bylaws, the industry, and the jurisdiction.

Sometimes, the chairman may also hold executive responsibilities, such as CEO or president. However, in other cases, the chairman’s role is primarily non-executive, focused on board leadership and governance oversight.

Roles and Responsibilities 

The key roles and responsibilities of the chairman include:

  • Board leadership: The chairman presides over board meetings, sets the agenda, and facilitates discussions among board members. They also foster a collaborative culture, ensuring the board operates efficiently and diverse perspectives are considered.

  • Strategic guidance: Board chairs work closely with the CEO and other executives to develop and refine the organization’s long-term goals and objectives. Their experience and expertise shape the organization’s strategic vision and ensure alignment with the interests of shareholders and stakeholders.

  • Governance oversight: They ensure the organization operates within legal and regulatory frameworks, uphold ethical standards, and maintain transparency and accountability. They may also appoint and evaluate board members, fostering a diverse and skilled board composition.

  • External representation: As a key organization representative, the chairman engages with shareholders, investors, government bodies, and the public, representing the organization’s interests and values. They may also participate in industry events, engage in public speaking engagements, and build relationships with key stakeholders to enhance the organization’s reputation and influence.

  • Relationship with the CEO: While the CEO is responsible for the organization’s day-to-day management, the chairman provides guidance and support to the CEO, holding them accountable for achieving strategic objectives. This relationship is crucial in maintaining a balance of power and effective decision-making between the board and executive management.

By understanding and embracing the distinct roles of the chairman, organizations can leverage their expertise to drive success, strategic alignment, and sustainable growth.

Pay and Notoriety

The compensation of a chairman depends on factors such as the size and complexity of the organization, industry norms, and the chairman’s level of experience and expertise. 

As of Aug. 3, 2023, the average chairman’s salary ranges between $314,142 and $535,257. Compensation packages may also include bonuses tied to performance metrics, stock options, and other forms of equity-based compensation.

Chairs of well-known organizations or those who have achieved notable success in their respective industries can enjoy certain notoriety. The notoriety gained can offer opportunities for networking, speaking engagements, and participation in industry conferences. It can also enhance their personal and professional profiles, potentially opening doors for future board positions or advisory roles.

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What is a President?

A president is a senior executive position within an organization’s corporate structure. The president is responsible for the company’s overall management and operational functions.

In some cases, the president may report directly to the CEO or the board of directors; in others, they may serve as the CEO themselves. The precise title and scope of responsibilities can also differ depending on industry norms, company size, and organizational structure.

Roles and Responsibilities

The president’s specific responsibilities and reporting structure can vary across different organizations. However, the following are some common aspects associated with the role of a president:

  • Executive leadership: As the highest-ranking executive, the president works closely with the board of directors and shareholders to develop and implement strategic plans that drive the organization’s growth and success.

  • Operational management: The president collaborates with other senior executives and department heads to ensure business activities are effectively carried out and aligned with the organization’s goals.

  • Decision-making and problem-solving: The president analyzes market trends, assesses risks, and considers various factors to guide decision-making. They must possess strong analytical skills to balance short-term objectives with long-term goals.

  • External relations: The president builds and maintains relationships, negotiates contracts and agreements, and enhances the organization’s reputation and visibility. They also act as the organization’s spokesperson, promoting its mission, values, and achievements.

  • Organizational culture and employee engagement: The president sets the tone for employee engagement, motivating and inspiring the workforce to achieve their best performance. They ensure the organization is committed to ethics, diversity, and inclusivity.

In some organizations, the president may also hold the title of CEO (Chief Executive Officer), while in others, the roles of president and CEO may be separate. The exact titles, such as CEO vs. owner, may differ, but the core focus remains on executive leadership and operational management to drive the organization’s success.

Pay and Notoriety

The compensation of a president is based on the organization’s compensation policies, market benchmarks, and the individual’s qualifications and experience. The compensation ranges between $127,588 and $164,694. The pay may include a combination of salary, performance-based bonuses, stock options or equity grants, and other benefits such as retirement plans and health care coverage. 

A president who has successfully led an organization through periods of growth, innovation, or significant milestones may gain recognition for their leadership abilities. They may be sought after for speaking engagements, industry panels, and other professional opportunities, enhancing their brand and reputation.

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With OnBoard, your board can experience streamlined workflows, enhanced communication, and secure access to critical information, ultimately empowering your organization’s senior management to focus on strategic initiatives and drive success.

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About The Author

Adam Wire
Adam Wire
Adam Wire is a Content Marketing Manager at OnBoard who joined the company in 2021. A Ball State University graduate, Adam worked in various content marketing roles at Angi, USA Football, and Adult & Child Health following a 12-year career in newspapers. His favorite part of the job is problem-solving and helping teammates achieve their goals. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and two dogs. He’s an avid sports fan and foodie who also enjoys lawn and yard work and running.