Qualities of a Chief Executive

Adrianne DuMond

We often recruit the Chief Executive based on competencies – strong leadership, selecting and managing qualified staff, and mastery of complex financial structures. What are the other qualities we need to consider?

Integrity: I like to hear when checking references “He/she has always been honest with me – a straight-up person.”

Credibility: In addition to credentials and professional background, it is important to believe this person has credibility and passion for the mission in the marketplace.

Presence: Does this person command respect in the community, communicate effectively, with a powerful and compelling story about the agency.

Initiative: In these trying economic times, it is important for a chief executive to be adaptable to changing circumstances, exhibiting resourcefulness and ingenuity.

Vision: Some nuts and bolts executives have a difficult time with vision – thinking strategically and planning effectively. Smart executives recognize this weakness and seek input from the Board, staff, and seasoned professionals.

Responsiveness: This is best accomplished by listening well – to community, staff, Board, donors, grant makers, and partners, and responding effectively.

Political Astuteness: I have discovered that successful executives have a mastery of political astuteness. They have to survive and grow by being aware of all the countervailing forces in their environment, handling the challenges with tact and skill.

The role of the chief executive is pivotal and essential to the non-profit sector. It is crucial to the success of the sector to spend time attracting and retaining strong leadership.

Author:  Adrianne Dumond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org