Executive Director Responsibilities: A Comprehensive Guide

April 28, 2020
Posted in Recruiting
April 28, 2020 Recruiterie

Capable executive directors, as defined by the Harvard Business Review, have a wide range of personalities, strengths, values, but share a standard quality. Effective executives gather the necessary knowledge needed to accomplish their responsibilities.

Generally, an executive director is a leader within a company or non-profit organization who oversees and takes responsibilities for tasks relevant to their profession.

This leadership ensures the organization remains aligned with overall company goals and culture as well.

A business that lacks the guiding leadership of an executive director cannot sufficiently contribute to the company’s overall success.

For this reason, locating fitting executive talent requires a thorough search and hiring process.

Read more below on executive director responsibilities as well as how you can locate quality candidates that will champion your business.

Table of Contents

A Comprehensive Guide to Hiring for Executive Director Roles

Executive Director Job Description

Your search’s goal is to find qualified candidates as well as candidates who align with your unique culture.

So, it is essential to create a concise executive director job description to attract candidates who meet your expectations.

The job description that you post gives a candidate a broad overview of what this job requires and what is expected. Additionally, it provides the candidate with an inside look into your company’s structure, culture, and other factors.

All in all, a job description shouldn’t overwhelm a candidate, but it should still provide them with the key information about the role and your company that they need.

To help you create a complete job description, we’ve compiled a list of primary executive director responsibilities and other insights to include when creating an executive director job description.

Executive Director Job Summary

The job summary section of an executive director job description is the place where you can clearly define what your expectations are for this role.

As we discussed before, the role of an executive director depends on what kind of organization they are leading. So, an executive director’s job summary and your expectations will vary widely from industry to industry.

Nevertheless, there are some common expectations you can include that target a candidate’s various skills, such as communication or past executive experience.

Let’s say you’re looking for a leader for your current HR project. If this is the case, your executive director’s job summary might reflect a desire for candidates with project management experience. In fact, you can specify your ideal candidate has managed wellness initiative projects in the past.

Another benefit of writing a comprehensive job summary is that you can use it when assessing a candidate’s value. Specifically, you can compare how candidates’ qualifications may or may not meet your expectations.

Executive Director Responsibilities

While there are numerous executive director responsibilities that you can include in a job description, not all of them may be relevant. Overall, the best responsibilities to include should be ones that are unique to your company and role.

Consider the following list of executive director responsibilities so that you can adequately narrow your search’s scope to locate the most qualified candidates:

  • Oversee employees and ensure that projects and short and long-term initiatives align with company culture.
  • Provide valuable insights when creating business action plans.
  • Act as a mentor to company leadership.
  • Assess the budget needs of their organization and create financial reports for stakeholders to review.
  • Create successful fundraising for organizational as well as community-wide goals.
  • Actively communicate with employees they oversee to motivate them and understand their various perspectives.
  • Create, maintain, and improve employer brand processes.
  • Share feedback with employees so that they may continue to improve the quality of their work.

Look at this list as a source of ideas when putting together your executive director’s responsibilities checklist. Think of these responsibilities in the context of your company’s needs and how this role will meet those needs.

Executive Director Skills Set

During the candidate evaluation process, you will need an understanding of your ideal candidate’s qualifications. Specifically, you should have an idea of what exemplary executive director skills set are.

For example, does your ideal candidate possess experience in project management? Or, does your ideal candidate need a combination of industry knowledge and soft skills such as communication?

Much like the executive director’s responsibilities, these fitting skills will be determined by what your needs are in searching for your candidate.

The areas that you should consider to create a comprehensive picture of the ideal executive director skills set are the following:

  • Hard skills: There are two main types of skills that a candidate can have—hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills include something a candidate has learned or even mastered. For an executive director, hard skills can consist of an understanding of your industry or training in software your company uses.
  • Soft skills: Conversely, soft skills are more interpersonal. A candidate’s personality is a soft skill, as they must meet the expectations of a role and work well with your existing team. Other soft skills to consider are communication expertise as well as leadership capabilities.
  • Education: The minimum level of education your candidates should possess is a bachelor’s degree. However, many positions may require additional experience, such as specialized degrees and certifications based on the industry.
  • Experience: While not required, it is often highly recommended that an executive director candidate have some valuable experience in similar roles. In other words, has the candidate been in a similar position where they’ve made a decent impact? Different experience your ideal candidate may have can include industry experience as well as overall leadership experience.

Executive Director Interview Questions

After examining a candidate’s qualifications, your next step will be to determine their caliber through an interview.

While a candidate’s resume can show you their skills and various qualifications, you need a deeper understanding of a candidate. Thus, an interview is a perfect learning opportunity to gain more insight into a candidate’s background.

Below are sample executive director interview questions that are designed to create an extensive interview process:

  1. How do you define unique and successful fundraising programs? When working for a non-profit, many executive director responsibilities revolve around fundraising. This question is asking a candidate to tell you how they understand proper fundraising and what makes it successful.
  2. Tell me what process you use to create a useful comprehensive report for stakeholders. As an executive director, a candidate must be able to assess involvement in fundraising as well as other financial endeavors. This understanding also includes creating detailed yet easy-to-digest reports for stakeholders to see how their investment is being used. This question can also be used to see how well a candidate can put requested financial information together in a report.
  3. What methods do you use to balance the responsibilities of mentoring your employees with the rest of your duties? Finding a candidate who can easily transition from their duties in one sphere of influence to another is key. Your ideal candidate should be able to balance the needs of mentoring employees with the needs of stakeholders. Additionally, this question can assess how well a candidate’s personality will fit in when mentoring your existing employees.

Executive Director Salary

As you’ve learned thus far, the role that an executive director plays in your organization is a major one, so the role will require the appropriate compensation equal to the impact of the role on company success.

Generally speaking, factors that will increase or decrease one’s salary include education level, on-the-job experience as well as prior knowledge, and what industry the role is in.

As executive directors work in numerous industries and can possess a range of skills, there is no true standard salary of the executive director role.

However, you can look to the median, or average, pay of this role to get an idea of an appropriate salary. As of 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median pay for top executives* as $104, 980.

*When taking this number into consideration, you should note that the BLS lists this role simply as “top executives,” which includes but is not limited to the role of only an executive director.

Discover a Remarkable Executive Director Candidate With the Right Search

By now, you’ve learned that the factors that go into locating an executive director are complex. You may find the idea of conducting this search on your own to be intimidating.

Thankfully, you can make your search process more efficient and less daunting by partnering with an experienced executive search firm.

Recruiterie‘s team has over 20 years of knowledge and expertise in building successful teams. With this experience, Recruiterie has helped businesses of differing shapes and sizes maximize their value through hiring top-quality candidates.

By making the goals and expectations of your company a priority, Recruiterie can create a custom-tailored search experience for each client.

The firm’s team of experts has thoroughly assessed each candidate that a client of Recruiterie receives.

This assessment includes cultural fit, skills, and a candidate’s qualification for the role. In the end, clients receive the best executive search solutions that cater to their unique needs.

Receive personalized support for your executive search process and find well-performing talent with Recruiterie! 

Begin a long-term partner by contacting Recruiterie online or calling (602) 326-6820. 


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