Five Characteristics of Effective Executive Directors and Board Chairs

board development and revitalization intentional practices roles and responsibilities May 08, 2023
Five Characteristics of Effective Executive Directors and Board Chairs


The measure of the executive, Peter Drucker reminds us, is the ability to “get the right things done.” This usually involves doing what other people have overlooked and avoiding what is unproductive. In an executive position, intelligence, imagination, and knowledge may all be wasted without the acquired habits of mind that mold them into results.


Drucker has long been recognized as one of North America’s pre-eminent management philosophers and researchers.


Drucker identifies five practices essential to effectiveness that can—and must—be mastered:

  • managing time;
  • choosing what to contribute to the organization;
  • knowing where and how to mobilize strength for best effect;
  • setting the right priorities;
  • knitting all of them together with effective decision-making.


These obviously apply to the Executive Director or Chief Executive Officer.


But they also apply to the Board Chair, particularly in managing the board meeting – what goes on the agenda, managing the meeting, building a board team, and of course determining how they and the Board might best contribute to the agency and specifically the Chair/CEO partnership.

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Every organization needs performance in three major areas, according to Drucker:

  • direct results;
  • building of values and their reaffirmation;
  • building and developing people for tomorrow.


Too often Boards leave these critical performance areas to the Chief Executive Officer alone.


What are your key success factors? Have you discussed them, articulated them, agreed to them? How do your measure these results?

How do you live and model your agency’s values? To the staff? To the community?

 What is your succession plan? For the Chief Executive Officer? For the Board? For the Chair? Is it written in policy? And followed?


Drucker talks about business. Too often the notion of “business” makes not-for-profits nervous. But the performance of any organization requires much the same, whether the desired result is increased profit or movement toward accomplishing your mission.


Check out the whole book. It is worth your time.



What are your main “pain points” dealing with executive effectiveness?

What advice would be most helpful to you?
And we always assume that you are asking for a friend!

Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.



Its Time to Get the Right Things Done!

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P.S. May I ask a tiny favour? Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can post the links in your Facebook Groups, LinkedIn or even send an email.

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