Chief Executive Officer Vs. Chairman

May 31, 2020

Comparing Chief Executive Officers to Chairmen

A business relies on its executives to keep its assets safe, and the chief executive officer and chairmen are members of this decision-making body. Their levels of regular involvement with the company, however, differ. Below you'll find a comparison of the similarities and differences of these roles.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2020)* Job Growth (2018-2028)**
Chief Executive Officers Bachelor's Degree $156,574 6% (Top Executives)
Chairmen Bachelor's Degree $202,781 6% (Top Executives)

Sources: *, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Chief Executive Officers vs. Chairmen

Both chief executive officers and chairmen are responsible for creating growth in a company, while also eliminating unnecessary costs. Additionally, both answer to shareholders who want to see the business thrive. The former runs the company daily, checking in with employees to ensure the workflow is moving smoothly. The latter is focused on giving the organization direction before stepping back and allowing the chief executive officer to maintain the changes.

Chief Executive Officers

The chief executive officer, or CEO, is the president of a company. He or she makes decisions related to hiring, workflow, and budgets. The CEO, however, may answer to a board, and that often means implementing the changes and policies the members wish to see. While building the yearly business plan, which can include allocating spending for different departments, the CEO looks over financial statements for the previous year. They may also hire new employees and promote department heads, as the incentive for higher positions can motivate staff.

Job responsibilities of a chief executive officer include:

  • Reducing company costs by cutting spending or omitting extraneous positions
  • Developing a company culture by leading as an ethical example
  • Ensuring the organization obeys relevant laws, such as employee rights
  • Bringing more to the brand of the company by implementing the acquisition or development of new products


Chairmen lead the board of a company and ensure the CEO is aware of and implements the board's decisions. Even as they advise the CEO on major decisions, they have no stake in the company itself, allowing them to remain unbiased. Not only do chairmen develop an agenda for board meetings, they also lead those meetings and make sure everyone's ideas are heard. In addition, they lead meetings with shareholders and inform them of the regular activities of the company. Chairmen are also responsible for encouraging new investors to fund a new project or endeavor.

Job responsibilities of a chairman include:

  • Leading the negotiations during mergers and joint ventures
  • Appointing CEOs and determining who will succeed them
  • Researching any new political decisions that could affect the organization
  • Suggesting new policies or procedures during board meetings

Related Careers

If you're researching a career as a chief executive officer, you may also find a position as a financial manager fulfilling, because both look over a company's finances. If you're more interested in a career as a chairman, however, a job as a human resource manager may be for you, since both focus on getting the best talent in a position and act as liaisons between groups of people.

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