What is the Role of the Executive Committee?

executive committee meeting room

Whenever a large group gets organized—officially, it’s typically done by the dream team, which goes by many names including the Board of Governors, Overseers, Directors, or Trustees.

They then appoint, hire, or dispense with the selection of the numerous operating offices of their organization such as the treasurer, vice president, president, and other officers. The board of trustees which may be comprised of over 18 members subsequently organizes into different subcommittees.

Each of these subgroups specializes in different areas like operations, acquisitions, strategic planning, finance, sustainability leadership, insurance, etc. Among these subcommittees is the executive committee.

The rationale behind the Executive Committees

As the name suggests, the executive committee is composed of members who occupy the senior-most positions of the organization. They include the secretary, treasurer, chief officers, vice president and president.

It’s a small group of directors who work in the interest of, and are limited by the powers granted to them by the board of directors. Members of the executive committee typically have leadership ties, can convene on short notice to address urgent business and reports to the board of overseers.

In an ideal world, the board of trustees is responsible for making decisions and planning according to the values, vision, and mission of the organization. However, this is far from reality because it usually isn’t practical for the board, particularly large boards, to convene to take action.

And that’s where the executive committee saves the day and serves as a steering committee.

It prioritizes emerging issues for the board, stipulates the agenda for board meetings, and may act on behalf of the board in times of emergency when members of the board aren’t readily available.

Aside from guiding the organization, the committee also provides advice on everything from policy, risk management, strategy, investments among other areas.

The roles of the executive committee

The executive committee’s main functions and responsibilities vary depending on the needs of each organization and are typically stipulated in the company’s bylaws. Here are some of the committee’s primary duties and responsibilities:

  • Advisory responsibilities: one of the core roles of the executive committee is to serve in an advisory capacity to support the decision making process of the board of directors. They meet more often than the board, move fast, and make recommendations based on research results.
  • Workplace issues: in addition to its advisory capacity to the board, the executive committee also caters to workplace issues that require oversight at the senior-most level. Once workplace concerns have been raised, the committee decides whether to handle or move these issues up the chain to the board.
  • Ad-hoc committee management: members of the executive committees may be appointed to take on a supervisory role in ad-hoc committees created to spearhead special projects. In this capacity, their main job is to make sure the objectives of the ad-hoc committee are met and serve as an intermediary between the committees’ leader and board of governors.
  • Policy development: last but not least, the executive committee may be appointed to oversee the development of policies spanning a variety of areas, from human resources to ethics to environment to security to regulatory requirements, etc.

Aside from these duties, the executive committee may be called upon to create and implement strategy, budget, procedures, and operational plans of the organization. In addition to fulfilling its objectives, the executive committee has to act while balancing shareholders’ interests, maintaining integrity and also plan for the future of the organization.

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