In an attempt to create a corporation where stockholders' interests are looked after, many firms have implemented a two-tier corporate hierarchy. On the first tier is the board of governors or directors: these individuals are elected by the shareholders of the corporation. On the second tier is the upper management: these individuals are hired by the board of directors. Let's begin by taking a closer look at the board of directors and what its members do.
Board of Directors
Elected by the shareholders, the board of directors is made up of two types of representatives. The first type involves individuals chosen from within the company. This can be a CEO, CFO, manager or any other person who works for the company on a daily basis. The other type of representative is chosen externally and is considered to be independent from the company. The role of the board is to monitor the managers of a corporation, acting as an advocate for stockholders. In essence, the board of directors tries to make sure that shareholders' interests are well served.
Board members can be divided into three categories: Chairman – Technically the leader of the corporation, the chairman of the board is responsible for running the board smoothly and effectively. His or her duties typically include maintaining strong communication with the chief executive officer and high-level executives, formulating the company's business strategy, representing management and the board to the general public and shareholders, and maintaining corporate integrity. A chairman is elected from the board of directors.
Inside Directors – These directors are responsible for approving high-level budgets prepared by upper management, implementing and monitoring business strategy, and approving core corporate initiatives and projects. Inside directors are either shareholders or high-level management from within the company. Inside directors help provide internal perspectives for other board members. These individuals are also referred to as executive directors if they are part of company's management team.
Outside Directors – While having the same responsibilities as the inside directors in determining strategic direction and corporate policy, outside directors are different in that they are not directly part of the management team. The purpose of having outside directors is to provide unbiased and impartial perspectives on issues brought to the board.
As the other tier of the company, the management team is directly responsible for the day-to-day operations (and profitability) of the company.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – As the top manager, the CEO is typically responsible for the entire operations of the corporation and reports directly to the chairman and board of directors. It is the CEO's responsibility to implement board decisions and initiatives and to maintain the smooth operation of the firm, with the assistance of senior management. Often, the CEO will also be designated as the company's president and therefore also be one of the inside directors on the board (if not the chairman). (To learn about what CEOs