What is the difference between a CEO and a president?

Would you make a good CEO? Take our career test and find your top matches from over 800 careers.

Take the free career test Learn more about the career test

There seems to be a bit of confusion about the differences between being a CEO and being the president of a company. Depending on the company, there can be distinct differences between the job functions of the two roles. Or in the case of smaller companies, both roles can be carried out by the same person. The following should give some clarification:

In general, the CEO (chief executive officer) is considered to be the highest ranking officer in a company. As there is no one higher up in the company, the CEO sets the vision, mission, and strategic goals for the longterm. If the CEO is also the owner of the company (as is often the case with most small companies), the CEO's reason for the company's existence is crystal clear and always in the forefront.

Therefore, it is reasonable that a CEO's main responsibilities include making major decisions, managing the operations and resources, being the public face of the company, and being the liaison between the board of directors and operations. In fact, CEO's often have a position on the board, and use the board of directors more as advisers, with each advisor possessing a different expertise.

For companies that have both a CEO and a president, the president of a company is generally second in command, and works very closely with the CEO. The president's responsibilities include overseeing the day-to-day business functions and implementing ways to carry out the vision and mission of the CEO. The president will also set specific company goals that are to be met at specific times, and will hold meetings with vice presidents or managers in order to relay these goals to them so they can direct their staff.

For smaller companies, having both a CEO and a president may not be necessary due to the size of the company. In these instances, one person, often the owner of the company, typically takes on both positions (for example, owner John Doe would take on the title of 'John Doe, President and CEO'). This individual, then, would not only set the vision for the company but also handle the company's daily operations. That being said, some small company owners would rather not have two titles and just prefer to take on the title of CEO.

Related Careers

Detective

Detective

Your Match?
Avg Wage
$86k
Growth
+4.5%
Satisfaction
3.7 / 5

Are you a predominantly investigative individual, with an inquisitive and curious mind?