If I Lead A Startup, Should I Be The President Or The CEO?
This question was originally asked on Quora – a question-and-answer site where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users.
One user by name Stephen Ellis, who is also the President of Visible Divers, Inc. answered the question, and it’s published as written originally by the user.
“As a startup, you’ll be President and Janitor. Do what must be done.
That being said, there is a real difference between CEO and President, although in most startups, one person will be both. Here’s the difference: The CEO is the person that paves the future of the company. He/She seeks out the future opportunities, future technologies, future ideas, and long term strategy and direction of the company. They’re the “imagineer”; the trailblazer. The one that ensures future endeavors are available for the company to stick around for a long time. They are creating relationships with people and organizations that will help facilitate the easier arrival of that future they’re working on.
The President is the person that figures out how to make current operations realistically meet the imagination and direction that the CEO is finding and enabling. When actually used, the CEO title is above President, as the CEO determines the company’s direction.
A CEO should have natural talents and skills in a variety of fields. A person with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is actually an excellent choice for this position. They’re opening all kinds of doors. The President should be a master of sales, and be fairly OCD – excellent at closing things. The CEO is the scout ship, and the President is the day-to-day commander that ensures successful execution from what the scout discovers. The CEO should have more of his head in the clouds, and the President should have his feet firmly on the ground. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but hopefully it clarifies the value that each brings to the organization. Together they are a powerful pair.
Again, a startup is usually going to need one person to be both. As a startup, you can go with either title on paper, though the others are correct, you must have a registered President (CEO is optional). Some people go with both titles “President and CEO” but all it says is that you have an ego.”
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