What is the highest position in a company? The chairman of the board of directors holds the highest position in a company. He or she leads the board and top officers in managing all aspects of the company's business.

Corporate Structure

A typical corporate structure consists of shareholders, officers, and board of directors. Shareholders are not directly involved in the operations of the company. The officers look after the daily operations whereas the directors govern the company to protect the shareholders' interests.

There are two major criteria for including someone in your management team. First, they should have the necessary training and skills required for the job. Second, their track record should support their talents.

You may not have an experienced management team when you start a company. Usually, the team evolves as the company grows. Meanwhile, the team members may have to take up multiple responsibilities to manage the company.

Board of Directors

The articles of incorporation or company bylaws usually name the first directors of the company. Sometimes, the person forming the company may select the first directors. After the incorporation is complete, shareholders elect the directors in annual meetings.

Typically, the board of directors is the governing body of a company and the board chairman holds the highest authority in a company. They preside over the board meetings and lead the company's business.

In addition to the chairman, the board of directors charts out the business path for the company. The board is legally responsible for the actions of the company and its employees.

Duties and responsibilities of a company's director usually include the following:

  • Acting with due care on behalf of and in the best interests of the company
  • Acting in good faith and with loyalty to the company and its members
  • Participating in board meetings
  • Approving certain actions of the company, such as contracts and agreements, new company policy, purchase and sale of assets, and the election of officers
  • Amending bylaws and articles of incorporation

The size of the board (the number of directors) depends on the size of the company's business. Usually, the company's bylaws or the articles place an upper limit on the total number of directors it can have. A small company can have just one director whereas a large corporation can have even more than 10 directors on its board. From a voting point of view, a company should have an odd number of directors so that it can take clear decisions in cases where the board is divided in opinion.

C-Level Executives

C-level executives are usually involved in important business decisions like creating business ideas, setting up the management team, and bringing the resources together in order to successfully run the company. These executives can be from among the shareholders (majority or minority stakeholders) or from the outside. In larger organizational setups, the C-level executives usually head their respective division, such as finance, marketing, or technology.

These corporate officers are generally appointed by the board of directors and are given authority to act on behalf of the company in most business activities. Typical C-level positions include:

  • CEO or Chief Executive Officer: Often a member (usually chairman) of the board. The CEO usually signs the contracts on behalf of the company and reports to the board of directors.
  • COO or Chief Operating Officer: Manages the day-to-day affairs of the company. The COO reports to the CEO.
  • CAO or Chief Administrative Officer: Usually responsible for looking after the company's administrative management.
  • CIO or Chief Information Officer: Establishes and maintains a strategy for protecting company information and data.
  • CFO or Chief Financial Officer: Responsible for company financial matters. The CFO is often called "treasurer" or "controller."
  • CTO or Chief Technology Officer: Mainly manages the company's technology, research, and development process.
  • CMO or Chief Marketing Officer: Manages the company's marketing activities. This is a mid-level position that reports to the CEO.
  • CHRO or Chief Human Resources Officer: Heads the human resources department. This is a mid-level position that reports to the CEO.
  • Company Secretary: Responsible for maintaining the company's records and documents (e.g., minutes of the meetings) and ensuring compliance with legal requirements (e.g., filing annual returns).

In a small company, a single shareholder may serve as the company director and officer.

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