What is the role of an executive committee?

What is the role of an executive committee on a board? The committee doesn’t have just one function, but one of its most important roles is providing strategic and operational leadership to an organisation. 

To be most effective, an executive committee must function as a collective body and serve as a model for the rest of the organisation to follow. Since the executive committee’s role is crucial to running an effective organisation, this Lexicon guide will discuss who should be on the executive committee, choosing the right people, and their areas of focus.

Choosing members for an executive committee

The effectiveness of the committee can be a substantial competitive advantage for your organisation. So, the choice of people to be on the committee is very important. There are different areas where executive committees can look at their effectiveness, and one of these is a strategic focus. 

The committee must anticipate the future needs and sustainability of the organisation and develop an overall mission and vision. They must also seek a wide variety of inputs from different team members and be good listeners. Finally, they must prioritise the interests of the organisation above individual needs.

Everyone on the executive committee should be clear on their roles and responsibilities.

What are the priorities of the executive committee?

There can be a lack of focus on executive committees where leaders juggle too many priorities, resulting in high attrition rates or poor financial performance. So, one role of the executive committee would be to choose a limited set of preferences to focus on and ensure that they are aligned on these core priorities. They must monitor the external environment for threats and opportunities, communicate the vision and strategy to the board and executive, motivate the workforce, and build solid and accountable teams.

The committee should choose which priorities should be focused on at their level and which can be delegated. They should consider the organisation’s mission, vision, and values and address emerging issues and crises. An executive committee can be a minor team that can get together at short notice and make decisions on behalf of the entire board. Acting as a kind of steering committee, the executive team may prioritise the issues the whole board should address.

How large should an executive committee be, and how often should it meet?

Many executive committees are small, with three to seven members. These could consist of the chairperson, vice-chair, secretary, and treasurer, including the CEO and any other board officers who wish to join.

The executive committee will probably meet more frequently than the board and should have the ability to make faster decisions. 

An executive committee appointed by the board may be responsible for hiring the CEO and setting their compensation. The CEO will then work closely with the committee in an advisory capacity and evaluate their performance.

Such committees should research risk and industry trends and monitor and evaluate its progress towards its goals. They should also oversee the companies’ policies regarding areas like HR, ethics, and security. Serious workplace issues and breaches may reach the executive committee for decision making, and the team will be responsible for communicating these issues to the board.

In summary

  • It is said that the executive committee, along with the board, defines and sets the organisation’s culture, and they must establish a clear purpose and an actionable strategy. 
  • Members of the committee must be good communicators and should create cohesiveness between the board and the rest of the organisation. 
  • Members are responsible for building and growing the organisation and evaluating progress, setting the tone of how issues are dealt with and assessing the market for trends.

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