A corporation typically has one of two types of board chairmen. One option is an executive chairman of the board who is involved in day-to-day operations of the business in some manner. The second option a non-executive chairman who is not involved in day-to-day operations.
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Presides Over Board of Directors
The primary function of a non-executive chairman is to preside over the board of directors of the business. In addition to presiding over meetings of the board, a non-executive chairman makes appointments to board committees and coordinates the scheduling or regular and special meetings of the board of directors.
Advice to Management
Although not involved in the day-to-day management of the corporation, a non-executive chairman typically provides advice to the executive management team. Even though a non-executive chairman is active in making routine decisions, because of her position with the corporation, her opinions tend to carry weight with those charged with overall corporate management.
Oftentimes a person is selected to be the non-executive chairman of a corporation because of his reputation in the community or world at large. Consequently, a primary duty of such a non-executive chairman is to attend or otherwise participate in public events and functions. Public outreach is a major task for such a chairman. A prime example of a non-executive chairman is Roy Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney. Although Roy Disney held a variety of positions with the Disney Company during his career, he served as a non-executive chairman for the company for a period of time. In no small way he was appointed to this position because of his relationship to the founder of the company and his family name.
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