Difference Between a President and a CEO

Hello Everyone,

Have you wondered who’s the real Leader. How the corporate structure is controlled, and who controls it?
The difference may be established by bringing clarity on corporate governance and scope.

In this blog, will understand and differentiate between a President and a CEO positions.

For those ambitious individuals in the corporate world the title CEO sounds very attractive, many wholeheartedly pursue to become a CEO, the route to that coveted title CEO may include working as a president of a subsidiary of a conglomerate or working closely along with the CEO in an organization.

CEO stands for Chief Executive Officer and President is also known as COO (Chief Operating Officer).

In the corporate world, there seems to be a fascination for titles and designations, they are both descriptive and fancy. Sometimes these titles overlap with one another or there to differentiate one from the other. Take an example of Chairman, there is Executive Chairman and Non-Executive Chairman, which may differentiate the roles they play and the degree of their involvement. Then there are titles like President, Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President, etc. which may sound different but in general, may mean the same scope of work. Though these titles overlap at times, yet organizations may use the same or different title to differentiate the roles and responsibilities.

1. Where they sit at the board?

Both the CEO and the President have a good working relationship with the Board Members. The CEO has a permanent seat at the Board, whereas the President may or may not have the seat at the board.

2. Who reports to whom?

In a corporate hierarchy, the CEO is the No. 1 official, most powerful in a company, and the President is the No. 2 official in a company. The CEO reports to the board and the president reports to the CEO.

3. What is their focus?

A CEO’s focus is on the macro perspective of the organization’s performance and the president focus in on the micro perspectives of the organization’s performance. When the CEO also doubles as a president, then he or she focuses on both Macro and Micro perspective of the organization’s performance.

4. What are their responsibilities?

A CEO’s and President’s responsibilities may vary depending on the vision, mission, strategic goals, products and services.

5. What are the key tasks they perform?

The tasks CEOs handle include, make sure the board has sufficient and up to date information, scan the environment and identify opportunities for growth and change, establish differentiators, set budgets, steer the organization in the right direction, build organizational culture, and lead the senior management team.

6. How their Success is measured?

A CEO’s success is measured by how their contributions help an organization to gain a competitive advantage in a business environment through disruptive ideas and innovation. Some of the metrics used to measure CEO performance may also include Earnings Per Share, Return on Equity, Return on Assets, Return on Capital, Revenue Growth, Cash Flow, etc. in case of a public listed company, performance of a company’s stocks over a long terms may be the final scorecard on a CEO’s performance.

The president is the ultimate successor of the CEO. One critical element that can measure the president’s success is their partnership with the CEO, for the trusting partnership between CEO and president, is the most challenging and difficult of all organizational relationships. The president’s success also depends on closing the execution gap and achieving objectives set by the CEO.


The president holds the highest office in the land. He swears to uphold our constitution and laws. He is accountable to the people. A CEO is a private sector official who runs a business or organization who answers to a board of directors and/or stock holders.

Also, roles and responsibilities may vary, especially in wholly owned subsidiaries with a CEO of the parent company having a president of the sub, as a direct report, yet given autonomy to run his own company. The CEO has a certain level of assumed responsibility to the overall structure, could hire and fire the subs president if they did not meet expectations, but he would be answerable to the board of directors in turn.