Six Ways to Jumpstart Your Organization with Interim Leaders
More organizations are hiring interim leaders for a variety of reasons. What’s interim leadership, and how can your organization benefit from this strategy?
According to Harvard Business Review, companies that know how to engage this lower-risk, flexible, and faster talent model have a competitive advantage.
An interim leader is a seasoned professional with deep strategic and operating expertise who steps into a leadership position (e.g. CMO, CDO, or other C-level types of roles) on a temporary basis. This is mostly when the predecessor has left the position for reasons such as termination, resignation, leadership change, or restructuring.
In addition, fast-growing startups and smaller companies hire an interim leader to gain access to expertise in a specific area without having to create a full-time role. This helps them rapidly scale up a business for the short-term without adding employee headcount costs, or going through a protracted hiring process to find the “right” person.
Meanwhile, some larger companies use interim leadership in a consulting capacity to bring in external expertise for specific initiatives. This is often the case when a company is in need of dramatic change, when an executive leaves a leadership role, or when you need a change of pace to get the business moving in the right direction.
Interim tenure can span anywhere from three months to two years, with an average of about eight months.
While Interim executive leadership is often used to fill a leadership position until a permanent hire is made, it’s not the only reason for involving an interim leader.
Interim leaders can be agents of organizational change. They’ll bring experience and expertise from past leadership roles in other organizations to introduce new ideas and devise solutions for a wide range of organizational challenges, including:
- Growth hacking.
- Strategic planning and short- and long-term roadmaps for success across functional areas
- Team and talent assessment and future planning. Crisis project management.
- Data analysis, organizational management, and business process improvement.
- Large project initiatives such as website redesign or re-platform, omnichannel integrations, brand development and repositioning, and other large cross-functional projects.
6 Ways to Get the Most Out of Investing in Interim Leaders & their Leadership
1. Allow More Time to Fill a Leadership Role
Finding the right hire for an executive role isn’t always easy. You must allow for time to find the right fit. However, leaving a position unfilled can result in many organizational issues and even impact a company’s bottom line.
Hiring an interim leader allows you to hit the ground running with minimum recruitment or termination formalities. This will streamline the process while reducing cost and time. This allows more time to find the right fit for the permanent role without the potential issues of leaving the position vacant for a long period of time.
2. Introduce New Knowledge and Innovative Ideas
Interim leaders are seasoned professionals with a wealth of knowledge and experience that can complement the capabilities of your internal teams.
Identify areas that can benefit most from external knowledge, the expertise required to lead a specific initiative, innovative ideas needed to open up new opportunities, or new skills the internal team needs to acquire. This will help so that you can find the most qualified interim leader.
For example, an organization can hire a fractional CMO with a specific skill (e.g., mobile marketing) to lead an initiative while transferring the knowledge to the internal team. This then allows them to maintain the results or implement similar projects without external assistance in the future.
3. Solve Existing Problems with New Solutions
Interim leaders can assess your organization’s current challenges from an objective perspective and evaluate the issues with fresh eyes. More so, they don’t have any pre-conception or conflict of interest and are unencumbered by protocols or politics.
Leverage the power of interim leadership to formulate new solutions to issues that your internal team is struggling to resolve. Interim leaders can bring in new insights and innovative approaches to an existing problem as well as inspire meaningful changes.
4. Streamline Existing Processes
As they expand, many companies outgrow their current processes. Therefore, established procedures could be outdated and inefficient, or can no longer support the scale of a mature organization.
An interim leader can be hired to objectively evaluate workflows, analyze data, and identify areas of inefficiencies. Thusly, they can propose new technologies or solutions that can streamline processes, reduce cost, and improve operational efficiencies.
5. Define Organization Structure and Leadership Needs
If your company is undergoing organizational changes and you need to define the requirements for leadership roles, hiring an interim leader allows you to “try it on for size” and determine what to look for in the permanent hire.
Many interim leaders also have experience in organizational restructuring. So they’re great resources to help navigate changes and solve particular challenges in the organizational infrastructure.
6. Lead Strategic Breakthroughs
Most leaders in an organization are busy enough just keeping the business operating smoothly. They rarely have the time and bandwidth to lead strategic initiatives that create game-changing breakthroughs.
An interim leader can be hired to focus on devising long-term, visionary strategies, unencumbered by the day-to-day operations. This can help future-proof the company so as to propel the organization into an industry leadership position.
Final Thoughts On Interim Leaders
There are many ways that interim executive leadership can benefit your organization. To get the highest ROI from this hiring strategy, make sure to define your needs and identify areas that can benefit most from the role so you can select the best professional for the job at hand.