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Option Ultrasound Directors This area is for Pregnancy Resource Centers wanting to get started in the OUP program or needing information pertinent to the program.

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What Qualities Should the Board Expect in the Executive Director?

The partnership between the Board of Directors and the Executive Director is the most critical relationship for the successful PRC. It is the symbiotic relationship between these two that will either propel the center to greatness or cause it to wallow in mediocrity. In the book The Nonprofit Leadership Team, Fisher Howe lists the desired characteristics of the Executive Director. Though the list is not exhaustive it provides great discussion for the board and the E.D. I will use Howe's list and then provide how it works in the PRC.

    Vision – The ED is the source of vision for the organization. Though the Board is responsible for assuring that the organization has a mission and that it is actually accomplishing the preset goals, the ED is the primary provider of the PRC vision. Wise boards make use of this gift as they set the course for the ministry.

    Initiative – Boards establish the ends for the organization, but they count on the ED to be able to create the means to actually get it done. The ED must be a self-starter, with creativity to accomplish the organization's goals.

    Proficiency – Many EDs are well versed in the program management of the ministry, but they lack the proficiency in areas of human and financial resources. The board should expect the ED to be competent in this area, and if they are not they should invest in training.

    Productive – Many is the ED who is smart, reasonable, and a really nice person, but they just can't get the job done. Boards need an executive who actually accomplishes the work.

    Communication Skills – How often is the demise of the ED who just has a “failure to communicate.” Communication, both written and oral, is a critical quality of a successful ED.

    Openness – Boards hate surprises. Transparency in leadership prevents surprises from happening. Trust and candor are two qualities that the Board must demand of the ED. Keep in mind that this must go both ways.

    Responsiveness – Boards and the ED must work together. That means that the ED must respond in a timely matter to the decisions and policies of the board and provide adequate information to the board so that decisions can be made. Without this the board cannot do its job, so responsiveness actually helps the board become more effective.

This list provides some characteristics that a board can expect from its executive director. If you are a board member and your ED doesn't yet meet all the above characteristics, there are ways a board can build up the ED to move her toward success.

Bruce E. Cole is Manager of Professional Development Services in the Sanctity of Human Life Department at Focus on the Family. He has been Executive Director for two Pregnancy Resource Centers, is a former pastor, and holds a Master's Degree in Organization Development from Central Washington University. Bruce can be reached at [email protected]


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