The President’s Job Description

Arguably, the president is the most important position in an organization, responsible for overall performance and guiding the strategic direction of the firm. Of any, surely this position ought to have a written description of how to accomplish these duties. However, if the company is not public and has no board of directors, it is unlikely the president will have one. Why is a simple, written job description of what the company’s leader does for a living so elusive?

For many positions, companies use a job description to find good quality hires, set expectations, and get them up and running quickly. The president of a small business, on the other hand, rarely gives up their post. They are often the founder or owner of the company and recruitment for their own job isn’t part of the thinking. Even when they are seeking a replacement, they are often looking within the organization and have a transition in mind. So that person is already assumed to know what the job entails.

Why is a job description for the president so beneficial? Bellrock recently helped one president draw one up. Here’s what he said:

“I wear many hats in my business. I knew what I was supposed to do, but it was vague. The job description crystallized the specific activities of the President’s role so I could differentiate when I was leading vs. managing, for example. As it turned out, I wasn’t spending enough time on the former, and the latter was much easier to delegate—which I’ve now done.”

A leadership’s orientation toward excellence – wanting to be the best, striving for improvement – is one of the most powerful indicators of a company’s ability to advance. It can and must be measured over time. A really useful tool in this regard is a job description for the president.

Of course, the content of a president’s job description is specific to that company – particularly if the business is under $50 million in revenue. Those companies have a uniqueness that requires more customization than large organizations. All the more reason to get it in writing.

Another major benefit of documenting the president’s role is identifying delegable activities. Too often, over-worked presidents decide to hire “assistants” to off load some of their burden. Unfortunately, without identifying what those specific delegable tasks are, the assistants are left with very little to do and the presidents are as busy as ever, now with increased costs. Inevitably, the great assistants then leave for more challenging roles and, even more frustratingly, the terrible ones stay in the cushy role for as long as they can. Sound familiar? It doesn’t need to be.

The president’s job description, combined with the business plan, outlines how they should spend their time and the expected outcomes of that effort. If they then share this information with others in the organization, they can coordinate shared effort. It also acts as a tool to help them set priorities.

If you don’t have one, consider this gap as an opportunity. Ask a benchmarking analyst to review your business goals and compare what you are doing with what you could be doing. If your mind is open to the idea that a job description is a useful tool to help get you to where you want to be, then get started on one today.

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Written By:
Tara Landes

Tara Landes is the Founder and President of Bellrock. She has spent over 20 years consulting and training in small to medium-sized enterprises. A sought-after speaker on a wide range of business topics, Tara has delivered workshops and seminars at conferences and industry associations across Canada. Tara obtained a BA (Honours) in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and earned an MBA from UWO's Richard Ivey School of Business.

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