International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2

By Jay M. Shafritz | Go to book overview

Volunteers are very important to fund-raising success; however, if volunteers do not follow through on important assignments or find that their personal lives and occupational demands are interfering with their volunteer commitment, the executive director must be ready to step in. More than one executive director has found him- or herself "jumping-in" to salvage a fund-raising project, while publicly giving the credit for the project's success to the volunteers, board, and staff.

Executive Director's Leadership Role in Relation to the Board's Governance Role

Clarifying the differences between the responsibilities of the board and those of the executive director, Kenneth Dayton stated simply that governance is governance, and not management. It is largely an indisputable custom that the executive director's role is to oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization, as well as to share jointly with the board in matters critical to the strategic direction and survival of the organization. Because the organizational stakes are high, there is good reason to have concern over the ambiguity that sometimes exists between what board members should actually do and what executive directors are expected to do on behalf of the board.

Some authors have suggested that the board-executive director relationship would be more productive if it were conceptualized as a partnership. Research investigations into what constitutes effective governance and executive leadership have led some researchers to suggest that an especially effective executive director is one who takes active responsibility for the accomplishment of the organizational mission and its stewardship by providing substantial "board-centered" leadership for steering the efforts of the board of directors.

This view also asserts that there are several flaws in the traditional governance model. In the traditional model, the executive director is ranked in a subordinate position to the board. The hierarchical relationship would suggest that the executive director's daily work activities are being directed and supervised by the board of directors. Robert Herman and Richard Heimovics ( 1991) affirm through their research findings what many executive directors have come to believe through practical experience: that the board may legally be in charge, but the work of the organization is accomplished by the leadership demonstrated by the executive director. In this alternative "board-centered" model of governance, the executive director's distinctive leadership skills, information base, and management expertise is used for leading the organization toward the accomplishment of its mission. Furthermore, this model acknowledges that board performance is reliant on the leadership and management skills of the executive director. In this way, the executive director works to promote board participation and to

facilitate decisionmaking. In addition, the executive director uses his or her interpersonal skills to craft respectful and productive interaction among the board members. With this approach, the executive director is (justifiably) credited with successful or unsuccessful organizational outcomes.



Bennis, Warren, and Burt Nanus, 1985. Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge. New York: Harper & Row.

Block, Peter, 1989. The Empowered Managen: Positive Political Skills at Work. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Boyatzis, Richard E., 1982. The Competent Manager: A Model for Effective Performance. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Drucker, Peter F., 1990. Managing the Non-Profit Organization. Oxford, England: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Heimovics, Richard D., and Robert D. Herman, 1989. "The Salient Management Skills: A Conceptual Framework for a Curriculum for Managers in Nonprofit Organizations." American Review of Public Administration, vol. 18, no. 2: 119-132.

Herman, Robert Dean, and Richard D. Heimovics, 1991. Executive Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

McCauley, Cynthia D., and Martha W. Hughes, 1993. In Dennis R. Young , Robert M. Hollister, and Virginia A. Hodgkinson, eds., Governing, Leading, and Managing Nonprofit Organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 155-169.

Mintzberg, Henry, 1973. The Nature of Managerial Work. New York: Harper & Row.

Young, Dennis R., 1987. "Executive Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations." In Walter W. Powell, ed., The Nonprofit Sector. A Research Handbook. New Haven: Yale University Press, 167-179.

EXECUTIVE ORDER. Chief executive officers' ability to instruct government agencies, through rules or regulations, to enact government programs. Executive orders have the effect of law and are used during regular and emergency situations.

The chief executive of a government can modify government agency regulations or rules through executive orders. These orders are based upon executives' ability to execute the laws, and in the instance of the President of the United States to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Executive orders are based on previous practices or legislative authorization. These orders may give administrative agencies broader or narrower scope for their authority. If the order is not grounded in agency rules or legislative statutes, it may be overturned by courts.

Executive orders can be broad or specific tools for administrative enforcement of government policies. Executive orders raise two key questions: (1) To what extent can the President act for the public good based on his office's authority? And (2) Do executive orders indicate executive autonomy from the legislature or administrative agencies? John Locke's view of the executive implies that executives


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