What Does a Chairman Do?

M. McGee

Chairman is the generic title of the highest-ranking person in an organization or group. This is the common term used when the organization doesn’t have a specific name for the position. A chairman typically has two main responsibilities. He will preside over and maintain order in organizational meetings and provide a public head for the organization for purposes of speeches or conferences. The chair holder is typically elected by members of the upper portion of the organization, generally without consulting lower-ranked members.

The Chairman is the highest ranking person in an organization and presides over important meetings.
The Chairman is the highest ranking person in an organization and presides over important meetings.

Many organizations have a body of people that oversee their day-to-day operations. These people generally have individual areas of expertise or a certain area of the organization in which they specialize. The chairman is the person that is nominally in charge of the rest of the group. He or she maintains order in meetings, helps to settle disputes between members and deals with issues that cross departmental boundaries.

In most cases, the other department leaders elect the chairman. This often means one of them is elevated to the new position and a new person comes in to fill the role vacated by the new leader. Generally, this vote is done totally in house and the rest of the organization is not part of the decision. Sometimes outsiders are brought into the organization as a chairman; this is typically a result of an excellent past record at other companies.

Along with basic mediation and problem-solving, the chairman is also a public head for the organization. When interacting with the public, the chairman is often the person giving speeches or presiding over conferences. This gives the organization a public face, allowing the people to associate the actions of the group with a single individual. This connection is great when the company does well, but when it doesn’t, the blame will often fall on the chairman.

This position is commonly found in large businesses. Companies with complicated structures and hierarchies will often use boards and chairmen to keep the structure organized. Other groups, primarily fraternal organizations and government bodies, will have chairmen was well. In either case, the basic job is the same.

The chairman position in an organization doesn’t have any specific skills or requirements. Generally speaking, the person must be organized and personable to perform the basic tasks of the job. Outside of these areas, there isn’t any specific schooling or background required. Since this position is the highest in the organization, it isn’t uncommon for the chairman to have a history with the company as well as familiarity with many of its sub-departments. While the experience is handy, it is not a requirement.

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