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Association Management

5 Tips for Becoming a Better Executive Director

MemberClicks Avatar MemberClicks March 24, 2023
Table of Contents
3 min read

Being an Executive Director is no easy task. On top of worrying about your organization’s membership, you also have to worry about the wellbeing of your staff.

What does an Executive Director do?

An Executive Director’s job is to oversee the heads of every other director at the nonprofit, association or chamber. This role isn’t responsible for the day-to-day as much as the achievement of organization goals or mission. They do things like:

  • Work with the Chair to communicate with board members
  • Report on goals and current success of the organization
  • Help with hiring
  • Set expectations of teams
  • Help to identify resources and tools for other departments in the organization

How to be a great Executive Director

We know it can get overwhelming, so to help you out, we’ve put together five tips for becoming a better Executive Director.

1. Lead by example

Good leaders don’t lead by talking – they lead by doing. This creates a culture in which employees want to emulate the type of person that you are. Want your employees to stay late on occasion? Then YOU need to stay late on occasion. Want your employees to go the extra mile? Then YOU need to go the extra mile.

Think about the traits you want your employees to mimic, then practice those wholeheartedly.

2. Don’t micromanage

Micromanaging is bad for everyone. Not only does it take up your time, but it frustrates the people that you’re working with. If you hire the right people up front, there’s no need to micromanage – you have a good team that you can trust.

Don’t feel like you can rely on others? Perhaps it’s time to rethink your hiring process. For more tips on that, check out our post, Growing Your Small Staff: 4 Tips for Hiring Smart.

3. Listen more than you talk

Yes, you have a lot of experience and advice to share with others. But don’t let that stunt the creative process. If you’re too quick to give direction, your team members will think less for themselves and become solely dependent on your brain. Let them explore some problems on their own. Who knows, you might even learn something new.

4. Praise your employees

Praise and recognition are essential to an outstanding workplace. When people feel appreciated, they work harder, smarter, and better yet, with greater loyalty. When one of your employees does something great, congratulate them on a job well done. Send out a company-wide email or recognize them at your next staff meeting. Little things like this go a long way in terms of employee satisfaction.

5. Ask for feedback (and act upon it!)

You know the saying, there’s always room for improvement? Well as an Executive Director, that saying holds true. Make it a point to ask your employees for feedback, and more importantly, act upon it when possible. Sure, that ping pong table in the breakroom might be a long shot, and if it is, be honest about that up front. But for other serious work-related suggestions, be open-minded and do your best to accommodate.

Be the best Executive Director possible!

At the end of the day, caring about your members, your mission and your team will help make sure you are successful as an Executive Director.

Now we all know being an Executive Director involves more than just managing your team. It involves managing your organization’s membership as well. Need help with the latter? Learn more about what an AMS is here.

Free Member Retention Guide

Ready to retain members and keep them coming back forever and ever? This guide will teach you everything you need to know about member retention. We cover all the basics, like the first steps to member retention and how to map out your member journey. From there, we dive a bit deeper into retention tips.