Sunday, October 12, 2008

Job Description. Part VII- Executive Director


In a typical dance organization there are two people on the top of the leadership pyramid. The artistic director that I have previously described and then the executive director of whom I will mention here. The executive director is essentially the financial and business head of the organization, the CEO of the non-profit. Together the artistic and exectutive director are the right and left brain respectively.

As mentioned in previous posts, each organization has its own inter workings; with today's tight economy, there are an increasing number of organizations that utilize one person to wear both the artistic and executive hats. But here is a summary of the executive duties of a non-profit organization.

The United Way of King County offers a plethora of non-profit governance resources. Including the following job description for executive directors by Jan Masoaoka:

At a recent gathering of nonprofit CEOs (executive directors) it was amazing how many people didn't have job descriptions - and almost no one had one that had been recently updated. Too often boards only look at the executive director's job description when they're unhappy with their executive or when they're hiring a new one. If you're writing or rewriting a job description, it may be helpful to have one for comparison. I've taken my job description as executive director of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services - one of the Board Cafe's co-publishers - and made it a bit more "generic" to serve as a template. Whatever job description you use, test to see that it both provides everyday guidance for the executive director and can serve as an evaluation tool at the end of the year. AND be sure to revisit and revise the job description as the job and the organization change.

Executive Director

The Executive Director is the Chief Executive Officer of ____________. The Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors, and is responsible for the organization's consistent achievement of its mission and financial objectives. In program development and administration, the Executive Director will:

Specific committee responsibilities:

  1. Assure that the organization has a long-range strategy which achieves its mission, and toward which it makes consistent and timely progress.

  2. Provide leadership in developing program, organizational and financial plans with the Board of Directors and staff, and carry out plans and policies authorized by the board.

  3. Promote active and broad participation by volunteers in all areas of the organization's work.

  4. Maintain official records and documents, and ensure compliance with federal, state and local regulations.

  5. Maintain a working knowledge of significant developments and trends in the field.

In communications, the Executive Director will:

  1. See that the board is kept fully informed on the condition of the organization and all important factors influencing it.

  2. Publicize the activities of the organization, its programs and goals.

  3. Establish sound working relationships and cooperative arrangements with community groups and organizations.

  4. Represent the programs and point of view of the organization to agencies, organizations, and the general public.

In relations with staff, the Executive Director will:

  1. Be responsible for the recruitment, employment, and release of all personnel, both paid staff and volunteers.

  2. Ensure that job descriptions are developed, that regular performance evaluations are held, and that sound human resource practices are in place.

  3. See that an effective management team, with appropriate provision for succession, is in place.

  4. Encourage staff and volunteer development and education, and assist program staff in relating their specialized work to the total program of the organization.

  5. Maintain a climate that attracts, keeps, and motivates a diverse staff of top quality people.

In budget and finance, the Executive Director will:

  1. Be responsible for developing and maintaining sound financial practices.

  2. Work with the staff, Finance Committee, and the board in preparing a budget; see that the organization operates within budget guidelines.

  3. Ensure that adequate funds are available to permit the organization to carry out its work.

  4. Jointly, with the president and secretary of the board of directors, conduct official correspondence of the organization, and jointly, with designated officers, execute legal documents.


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