Chairman vs. CEO: 4 Subtle Differences Between the Two Leadership Styles

It takes a different leadership mindset to govern an organization from the boardroom than it does to manage at the executive level.

GettyImages-dv2170015-compressorWhile CEOs manage day-to-day operations, corporate boards are charged with making sure the company meets the requirements of its mission. A company’s long-term growth and success can hinge on the appropriate management of the different roles and responsibilities between corporate executives and the board members, according to marketing consultant Justin Sachs, who spoke with The Huffington Post. Here are a few considerations he suggests business leaders make when switching between those two roles.

1. Oversight looks different from afar. The big-picture mentality required from board leadership can be a stark contrast from the more involved, day-to-day management style a CEO is used to. Board members need to turn attention away from the day-to-day and instead focus on long-term investments and the growth of the business, Sachs wrote. And since the CEO is narrowly-focused on daily operations, the company is counting on its board for overall planning and development strategies.

2. Pressure on boardrooms is mounting. Corporate boards around the globe are facing tougher demands amid an increasingly competitive business environment. According to the 2016 Global Board of Directors Survey by SpencerStuart and the WomenCorporateDirectors Foundation, 61% of public companies and 59% of private companies surveyed indicated that global growth prospects are uncertain.

“The big-picture mentality required from board leadership can be a stark contrast from the more involved, day-to-day management style a CEO is used to.”

3. Each has contrasting leadership styles. Whereas CEOs are leading a team, board members are leading the leaders of a business. It’s a board member’s job to influence the rest of the board team to align with his or her ideas, and then once approved, to communicate those ideas with the CEO for implementation, Sachs said.

4. The board-CEO relationship will shape the business. Like any marriage, the relationship between the board chair and the CEO can strengthen or weaken the company as a whole, according to Association Management. Strong communication and mutual respect is key here.

As your boardroom tenure progresses, keep in mind why you joined the board in the first place, suggests Association Management. Find what motivates you to serve and let that guide your decision-making in the organization.


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