The Role of the Association’s Chief Executive

Posted by TMG on October 19, 2017 9:15:00 AM

The chief executive of an Association or Professional Society is hired by and reports to the board of directors. Any other staff reports to the chief executive, not the board. This is an important feature of any Association’s organization chart, the understanding that the association’s staff is given direction by the CEO or Executive Director. Similarly, the President or Chair of the board deals directly with board related issues.

The chief executive keeps the board abreast on all matters relating to the association’s activities as well as any challenges or issues that may arise. Input from the chief executive is critical to a board’s success. Without his or her eyes and ears, it would be impossible for the board to make sound decisions. This is an important partnership!
While an association’s board and chief executive have two distinct roles, they are complementary, and each entity relies on the other. Here are some of the primary areas of responsibility in any association and a description of each party’s role:
Overall Direction
Board: is focused on the health of the association, so it:
Drafts and/or approves broad policies to guide and protect the organization, board and staff
Makes sure any legal matters are addressed
Hires the chief executive and assigns him/her tasks and responsibilities
Receives staff reports
Chief executive: is focused on programs and administration, so he/she:
Oversees the daily operations of an association, and ensures appropriate staff and operations policies are in place
Hires staff and delegates operational responsibilities to them
Keeps the board updated on any arising issues or news (good and bad)
Planning and Tracking
Board: is focused on establishing an organization’s structure, so it:
Determines the association’s overall culture, philosophy and mission
Participates in meetings and strategic sessions
Evaluates the performance of the chief executive and determines compensation
Evaluates its own performance regularly — at least every two to three years
Tracks the organization’s achievement of its goals via staff reports
Chief executive: is focused on executing strategic and operational plans, so he/she:
Ensures that strategic planning happens with the board’s appropriate involvement
Leads operational planning and approves the plans for the staff
Ensures a process for staff performance exists, approves staff compensation and evaluates his or her own performance
Board: is focused on its fiduciary duty over the organization, so it:
Makes sure the board includes someone with the necessary financial expertise
Sets overall fiscal policies and ensures appropriate internal controls
Approves the annual budget and analyzes financial reports
Hires an auditor and reviews the audit
Chief executive: is focused on managing finances, so he/she:
Together with appropriate staff, prepares the annual budget and provides the board with regular financial statements
With staff, handles the daily financial operations and monitors cash flow
Defines financial policies and procedures for all daily money transactions
Th role of the Chief Executive is essential to any organization. Their partnership with the Board ensures that the Board’s vision comes through daily in operations of the association. How are these roles and responsibilities aligning with your own organization’s practice?

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