The Markings of an Executive

I was with a friend last night and we were preparing a presentation for work. It so happened that we got onto a conversation about management and directors of companies. It occurred to me that some of the titles of management roles are somewhat misnomers or are, to me, incorrectly defined. I am for some reason fixated on executives, so I will write on them.


We define and executive as a person with senior managerial responsibility and power in an organization. Whilst there is not a lot wrong with this definition, one will note where the word comes from: Latin “Ex(s)equi (past participle ex(s)ecutus), execute, follow to the end: ex-, completely + sequi, to follow. When we look at it this way, we see that an executive is not merely a senior manager, rather he is one who gets things done.


  • Leadership: It goes without saying that an executive must have leadership qualities. In the first place, an executive has to realize that the work of the organization depends not on his getting it done, but on his ability to get others to do it. Some may call this leadership. He must provide employees with meaning full and attainable objectives. He should also provide very clear expectations of what is needed and wanted from each post, whilst at the same time leaving some room for employee input and initiative.
  • Ability to inspire: An executive needs to be able to inspire others and generate good morale in his vicinity. After all, he is dependent upon the willingness of those who work for him is he is going to be a success. This requires foresight. He has to be able to plan, organize and promote. He also has to set up and get compliance with sound company policy.
  • Knowledge: We select an executive primarily for his keen insight regarding the company. It then would serve him, if he is knowledgeable and can do every single job under his charge. This would make him more effective.
  • Communication: To create a productive environment, he must be able to communicate clearly his thoughts and ideas. To get things done, he must be able to get things done via another person (a messenger if you will). To create cooperation amongst staff, he must be able to get along with people. He does this by helping them understand their functions, the whys and wherefores of their jobs, their relationships to other jobs within the company as well as the communication lines which connect them.

A final word

Jean Baudrillard, a French semiologist, said: “Executives are like joggers. If you stop a jogger, he goes on running on the spot. If you drag an executive away from his business, he goes on running on the spot, pawing the ground, talking business. He never stops hurtling onwards, making decisions and executing them.”© Cool Memories, ch. 5 (1987, trans. 1990)

So there you have it, the markings of an executive.


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