Five top qualities of an Executive Director
An Executive Director acts as the advocate and voice of authority for their specialism to the rest of the organisation, forging a link between management and the board. What attributes are the most essential?
The Executive Director is often responsible for driving the vision, strategy and innovative thinking of their division, as well as overseeing daily operations.
1. Strategic thinking
Executive Directors should have an organisation-wide perspective of the work they are responsible for and how that contributes to long-term business goals. You can learn how to use your CA skills and adapt your thinking with our 'Adding strategic value as an accountant' course.
Being able to take a step back from divisional targets and put the needs of the company first is a key aspect of executive leadership.
An ability to inspire trust and communicate sound reasoning in an authentic and persuasive manner gives an edge to any management style.
Convincing key decision-makers and stakeholders of your expertise and the validity of your input is essential to influencing the direction of an organisation, as is encouraging commitment to common goals from colleagues.
Cultivating a professional image is particularly important at high levels of business. Confidence in your abilities, a positive attitude towards work and acting as an ambassador of company values will all help build an Executive Director's credibility, both internally and beyond.
As well as being convincingly capable in the role, factors like professional appearance, communication skills and a strong network play a part in self-presentation.
Having a career that includes at least several years as a senior manager, demonstrable experience handling the needs of multiple stakeholders, and a depth of knowledge about the business and industry are general requirements for an Executive Director position.
That history provides a strong foundation for operating with best practice and establishing respect.
5. Effective management
Executive Directors must be able to delegate responsibilities with insight and fair execution. Part of being a leader within an organisation is demanding mutual respect, something CAs can develop with the 'Motivating and managing people' workshop from BPP.
You may also consider mentoring as a way to instil those values in the people you work with.
Leading Figures, experts in coaching and consulting for finance and business professionals, have produced the ICAS Executive Coaching Programme to promote innovative thinking and accelerate the career growth of CAs. The next cohorts of the programme take place from Spring 2021.