The executive director (CEO) is the highest-ranking executive and the main decision maker in a company. The president is a high-level executive who is usually second in command, below the CEO. The functions of the CEO and the president may vary depending on the size and needs of the company. Generally, a chief executive officer (CEO) is the highest-ranking official in a company, while the president is the second highest. However, this is not always the case.
In small businesses, the CEO and the president are often one and the same. The title CEO wasn't coined until the '70s and wasn't commonly used until the late '80s. Before that, president was the title used to designate the highest executive of an organization. The CEO is the top executive of a company; the president is the second-highest executive, after the CEO. In some cases, the second-highest executive in a company is called the chief operating officer (COO).
CEOs are accountable to the directors, known collectively as the board. The president or chief operating officer reports to the CEO and can be fired by him. An executive director receives reports from the president and sometimes from other high-level executives, such as the chief financial officer. Vice-presidents, including executive vice-presidents and group vice-presidents, report to the president. In addition, higher-level officials, such as general managers, are often accountable to the president or chief operating officer.
Presidents, or chief operating officers, are concerned with executing strategies set by the CEO and report to him. The chief executive officer (CEO) and president of a corporation are typically two of the highest-level leadership roles in a company. Generally speaking, a CEO is considered to be at the top of an organization's hierarchy while a president is second in command; however, this may not always be true depending on corporate governance and structure. In some cases, instead of a president there may be a chief operating officer (COO). The primary responsibilities of a CEO include managing operations and resources, making major corporate decisions, being a liaison between board members and corporate operations, and being a public face for their company. It's important to understand that there can be variations in how these two roles are structured within an organization.
Depending on size and needs of a company, there may be differences in what each role entails. It's also important to note that while these two roles are often seen as interchangeable titles, they do have distinct differences that should be taken into consideration when making decisions about corporate leadership.