Managing Public Health: The Strategies and Challenges for an Executive Director Essay Sample

Managing Public Health: The Strategies and Challenges for an Executive Director Essay Sample


            The Executive Director serves as the leader for the organization’s growth. This individual is responsible for the continuity of the existing initiatives and makes sure there is sustainable growth for the organization. The Executive Director is given authority by the organization’s Board of Directors and is involved with the decision-making within the position’s scope of responsibilities. He or she is given the responsibility to lead the organization’s journey to achieve its strategic goals. The teamwork and working culture of the team is also highly influenced by this post. The Executive Director leads the strategic planning for the organization’s sustainable development.

            As the new Executive Director, it is important to consider the direction, the significance and the vision of the organization. It is also essential for this leader to make sure that the organization responded to the expectations of the community for the specific need that they would focus on. This could be done through the leader’s capability to carefully pool resources and activities that would be used in able to address the needs of the public. Awareness of the needs that were waiting to be met was the first task that this post required

            Public health non-profit organizations play a significant role in the health industry. They work to fight of exclusion and support social development despite the increasing healthcare services and reductions in the cost for compulsory health insurance (Coheur, 2004). As independent players in the industry, they could develop original services and products at lower prices or for free to provide a greater access to the majority of the population. An assessment of the past strategies and process systems needed to be implemented in order to determine which ones work and which ones needed to be revised or replaced.  Along with these assessments, the Executive Director could also gauge the existing status of the developmental projects of the organization and how far along the organization is from it vision.  The director also needed to implement strategies that would not only address the challenges that the organization faced throughout the years, but strategies that would improve the services and support provided by the organization.

Since non-profit organizations did not have shareholders or options that could profit its owners, they operated on their own funds or funds they accumulate from different avenues such as member’s contributions, fundraisers and business revenues (Coheur, 2004; Collins, 2005). One of the other tasks of the Executive Director would be to determine avenues that would sustain the financial capability of the organization. Finally, the new Executive Director needed to establish new connections being the new leader of the organization. Important connections that needed to be prioritized would be public health government leaders and leaders, representatives from the World Health Organization and from other non-profit organizations that could be future project partners.


            There were numerous challenges those leaders of non-profit organizations face. Despite the fact that a non-profit organization was unlike the corporate organizations, competitions and oppositions still existed that provided struggles for leaders from achieving the vision of the foundation. For a new executive director, external and internal problems existed.

External Challenges

There were more common external problems that could be observed. One of the common problems for organizations in the field of social services was the fact that they were largely ignored by governments (Coheur, 2004). They were often greeted with fear or mistrust because of the ignorance they held for the potential of such organizations. They usually lacked the experience in collaborating with social organizations.

            Often times, the problems that Executive directors faced were the creation of specific welfare programs. The planning, the hiring of adequate staff, sufficient financial resources, legislative support, and rigorous supervision and support from public authorities posed significant challenges (Collins, 2005; Coheur, 2004). In an international, national or local setting, these challenges existed with threats to equal rights to healthcare access, maintain pressure to constant access to care, and introduce measures to solve the other problems facing them.

Internal Challenges

            There were also problems that executive directors faced from within the group. These challenges came with the transition in leadership. These could also be problems that emerged from management struggles.

Letting Go of the Wrong People. In a corporate setting, it was easier to let go of people were being inefficient in their jobs and serving as liabilities to the growth of the organization (Collins, 2005). However, non-profit organizations faced different struggles when it came to letting people go. Most people who worked for these organizations worked on low salaries or were volunteers.

            Nevertheless, the goal was still about hiring the right people for the organization’s best interest. One of the hardest challenges for the new Executive Director would be to let go of people who were not right for the job. One could reassign such individuals or completely let go of these individuals. This involved threats to already developed relationships and conflict within the organization. However, the leader needed to decide to do this and deal with the dirty part of the job for the benefit of the organization.

Fearing New Practices. Christensen and his colleagues (2000) discussed about the potential of disruptive innovations in the development of the healthcare system. Being a new Executive Director in a public health non-profit organization, one needed to be aware of the changes in the industry.  While awareness for the newest innovations was significant, it was not enough to benefit from these innovations. The Executive Director had to answer to industry leaders, the Board of Director for the organization and even the staff. If these stakeholders were not open to accepting such changes, it could not be implemented. There would be difficulties in adopting new practices due to fear of the impact of such changes (Christensen et al., 2000).

Other Misconceptions of Non-Profit Organizations. It was also hard to deal with misconceptions that were placed regarding such organizations. The Executive Director needed to handle these myths and turn them around, however, this would not be an easy task. These misconceptions included that since these organizations did not profit, they had perfect management. It was important to recognize that there was no such thing as perfect management.  Most of the time, they also believed that they did not need brand-name awareness and failed to consider marketing for their organization. In the end, people end up not hearing about them and not being able to provide needed support (McLeod & Crutchfield, 2007).


            There are different strategies that could be implemented as a new Executive Director in order to address the internal and external challenges presented. These strategies could also provide an overall growth and sustained development for the organization.

Legislative Leadership

            According to Collins (2005), there were two types of leadership skills for non-profit organizations. Executive leadership involved­ a concentration of power for decision-making. In order to address the needs of the public by which the organization served, the Board of Directors, and the staff, the decision-making process needed to be spread out and this could be done under a legislative-type of leadership. This leadership type included persuasion, political currency and shared interests that needed to exist to arrive at a point of decision-making (Collins, 2005). This type of leadership should be used and introduced as a leadership practice in the organization.

Brand Development

             It was also important to build the brand, even if it was a non-profit organization. The common misconception was if the organization was successful and there was surplus of resources, it did not need to receive funding anymore. However, it was actually important to build the brand in order to build on the awareness regarding the organization’s mission and vision. It was the increase in the public awareness through brand development and building that would allow the organization to extend its scope and influence to better achieve its aims.  It was important to attract believers or supporters for the company (Collins, 2005). Even if it takes time and money to be able to address this, the organization must invest of developing their image to the public. This builds their strength and soon provide for results.

Selectivity: Hiring the Right People

            One of the greatest challenges mentioned in the transition stage was the fact that the new Executive Director needed to let go of the wrong people. Selectivity was a strategy that was difficult to implement, however, it was also significant for the success of the organization. It was important to implement a hiring process that was more selective because it makes the positions more attractive. It was also important to choose people that were passionate about the vision of the company and about the job they were doing because compensation could not be a primary incentive for such team members (Collins, 2005).

Creating Avenues for Change

According to Christensen and his colleagues (2000), “instead of working to preserve the existing system health care regulators need to ask how they can enable disruptive innovations to emerge” (p. 110). These disruptive innovations may be viewed as alternative practices in an industry. They were usually feared, avoided or rejected because they primarily provide threat to the profit of the existing players in the industry or challenged the current practices of the system. However, it had been observed that being open to changes increased the chances for a broader and more effective access to healthcare. It also provided more avenues by which investments could have an expanded reach. Leaders needed to be aware of the avenues that would provide such changes to develop.

High-Impact Perspective

            Executive directors also needed to maintain a high-impact perspective for the mission of providing the public quality healthcare services. While these organizations could not instantly address a large-scale change in the industry, starting out with advocacy campaigns and simple grassroot programs were effective in producing high-impact development (McLeod & Crutchfield, 2007).

            They also needed to build on strong community supporters that could help them achieve their goals. These community leaders could be allies of the organization, even when government leaders ignore it. Community leaders could provide volunteers, donors, and advisers that would be significant for their time, money and support (McLeod & Crutchfield, 2007). At the same time, the new Executive Director needed to nurture the existing and potential non-profit networks that the organization held.

Build a Sustainable Financial Foundation

            Even if non-profit organizations reject the commercial vision of society, they needed financial stability in order to adapt and develop services that would contribute to the capacities of the organization. One of the reasons why the Executive Director needed to hire the right people was because of specific capabilities to attract and establish financial support from the different sectors and avenues (Coheur, 2004). Collaboration was the best method for sustainable financial development in the organization. This could be done through a series of consultations and meetings that were regularly held in order to reach an understanding of each one’s role for the mission they have at hand. Examples of agreements included access and provision to medicine, methods of transport, prevention and information campaign and training programs (Coheur, 2004).

            The Executive Director needed to lead the team to establish partnerships with business leaders in providing innovative systems that could harness support for public health services. Individual donors and volunteers could build on investments that could translate to the achievement of the organization’s vision.


Christensen, C., Bohmer, R. and Kenagy, J. (2000). Will disruptive innovations cure healthcare? Harvard Business Review, p. 103-111.

Collins, J. (2005). Good to great and the social sectors. New York: HarperCollins, Inc.

Coheur, A. (2004). The state of development of private non-profit social protection organizations. International Social Security Association,  Technical Report 27, pp. 1-17.

McLeod, H. and Crutchfield, L. (2007). Creating high-impact nonprofits Stanford Social Innovation Review, pp. 32-41.