Executive Director Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

An Executive Director, or Chief Executive, is in charge of overseeing a business’s strategic vision and leading business decisions to drive company growth. Their duties include collaborating with a company’s leadership team, implementing strategic plans for the company’s development and managing relationships with stakeholders.

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Executive Director duties and responsibilities

Since an Executive Director is in charge of an organization’s strategic planning, they’re responsible for a wide variety of duties. They often have the following responsibilities:

  • Collaborate with the board of Directors to identify, create and implement strategic plans to actualize business objectives.
  • Identify, recruit, train and develop a talented team of employees who can lead critical departments and manage strategic business functions.
  • Monitor company operations and ensure employees and business practices comply with regulatory and legal requirements.
  • Develop the organizational culture and promote transparency and collaboration throughout the organization.
  • Develop partnerships with company stakeholders, shareholders, industry regulators and other relevant parties.
  • Identify potential risks and opportunities within the organization and its environment to protect business interests.
  • Identify potential sources of investment and organize fundraising efforts.
  • Represent the company at social and corporate events in ways that strengthen the brand and communicate the company’s message.
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What does an Executive Director do?

Executive Directors work at corporations and non-profit organizations to supervise a company’s administration and strategy. They build the company’s leadership team by hiring for key roles and training employees to carry out their vision. Executive Directors are generally part of a Board of Directors that works as a team to govern overall business activities and relationships. The Executive Director’s role is to assess the efficiency of their business practices and design strategic improvements to company procedures. They guide the company culture and direct communication to reinforce the company’s mission and motivate their team. Executive Directors hold a key role in enforcing legal compliance.

Executive Director skills and qualifications

A successful Executive Director candidate will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications needed to manage their role effectively, including experience in a senior managerial role, in-depth knowledge of the industry and leadership qualities. Common skills and qualifications include: 

  • Excellent understanding of finance-related performance standards
  • Proven ability to develop and execute financial strategies
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Demonstrated knowledge of corporate and regulatory best practices
  • Organization and leadership skills
  • Strategic thinking and analytical skills

Executive Director salary expectations

An Executive Director earns an average of $82,716 per year. Salary may depend on a candidate’s level of experience, education and geographical location. 

Executive Director education and training requirements

An Executive Director candidate requires a minimum of a master’s degree in business administration or a related field. Some employers in specific fields may require candidates to have a doctorate. Executive Directors should also have extensive experience in a similar position or senior leadership role.  

Executive Director experience requirements

The best Executive Director candidates are experienced at the highest level of their industry. They will have years of relevant knowledge in multiple disciplines to allow them to work seamlessly with the heads of various departments in their organization. As such, most employers expect Executive Director applicants to have at least 10 years of experience in a senior leadership position.

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Frequently asked questions about Executive Directors


What are the daily duties of an Executive Director?

On a typical day, Executive Directors attend meetings with business partners, media contacts, department leaders, shareholders and other people who influence the success of their business. Executive Directors often travel as part of their daily duties, flying to company events or visiting company offices to oversee project implementation. They prepare status reports and present their findings to the executive team, providing recommendations for changes and updates.


What is the difference between an Executive Director and an Operations Director?

Executive Directors are in charge of promoting a company’s overall goals while Operations Directors handle the logistics of accomplishing those goals. Executive Directors and Operations Directors may work closely together to ensure that company strategies align with their capabilities and access to resources. Executive Directors represent a company’s interests as a whole, giving instruction to Operations Directors who manage the intricacies of the company budget and infrastructure. Executive Directors work with the big picture vision of a company’s brand, values and initiatives while the Operations Directors handle the financial details and process evaluations.


What are the characteristics of a good Executive Director?

Good Executive Directors are highly focused and mission-driven. They believe in the goals of their company and embody their core values when interacting with employees, shareholders and business contacts. They are creative and have a visionary spirit, considering the long-term path of their organization. Executive Directors are aware of current trends and consumer perspectives, allowing them to predict market patterns and guide the company in a productive, sustainable direction. Successful Executive Directors are charismatic and articulate, allowing them to express their ideas intelligently. They demonstrate honesty, humility, transparency and respect when interacting with their team.


What should you look for on an Executive Director's resume?

Executive Directors are high-level employees and should have a strong resume with an extensive work history. Top candidates have longevity at their previous jobs, demonstrating commitment and allowing you to assess their long-term impact on a company’s success and growth. They should include details on how much they increased profits or how they restructured company departments to better suit their goals. Leadership experience is essential, and their resume should reflect experience supervising a large team of professionals.

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