Marshall Goldsmith famously authored a book titled, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, and disruptive leadership is a worthy application of this sentiment. The need to bring disruption to the supply, application, and performance of leadership has never been greater. Organizations need to consider who is leading, what they are leading, and how they are leading. Along with these considerations, they need to look at options for engaging the best leaders.
Why is it that many organizations still only rely on permanent leaders or consulting firms to lead major transformations? Permanent leaders are known resources, and they know the organization well – so it makes sense for them to lead. But, as John Kotter discusses in his book Accelerate, maybe a dual operating system with hierarchies and networks should be considered when considering leadership of organizational change. This is a proposed remedy to leading change and business as usual in parallel and tackling the limited supply of good change leaders. Consulting firms certainly have talented resources to help organizations through change. They also have overheads, proprietary methodologies, and scale, which may or may not be advantageous to the client. Serious consideration of interim leaders is way over due in the USA.
If the term “interim leader” is used in a conversation with many recruiters these days, it is rarely understood. It is either interpreted as a temporary job filled with a holding resource until someone good enough can be found for a permanent role. Or it is interpreted as a mere contract job or a short-term consultancy position.
Interim leaders are serious players in facilitating and leading organizational change. Hiring an interim leader is like engaging Nick Foles as a quarter back to lead the Philadelphia Eagles on a Super Bowl quest when your franchise quarter back is sidelined for the rest of the season through injury. And we know how that one turned out …! An interim leader has proven leadership skills, outstanding technical and strategic capability, a tested personality, and a focused mindset.
It’s time for recruiters to consider the option of an interim leader way more seriously. They need to get educated on what an interim leader is so that they can lead the discussion about what’s best for the organization. Recruiters need to become familiar with interim leader skillsets and capabilities. Maybe reading a few case studies of what interim leaders can deliver would be a good start. They certainly need to know how to source interim leaders.
Disrupting the way that organizational change leadership is resourced is a game changer. Hiring an interim leader can liberate the permanent leadership, inspire the workforce, and accelerate strategic goals. Hiring an interim leader to provide strategic change leadership through a major transformation, or to deliver significant projects, is a contemporary way to get the best out of the best. In Kotter’s model of hierarchy plus network, the occasional interim leader is a major asset.
Focal Leadership is now offering a 1-day workshop for senior business, HR leaders, and recruiters. This workshop is based on the upcoming book, Rise of the Gig Leaders, which defines the business case for interim leadership. If you would like to know more, please use the contact form on the Focal Leadership website www.focalleadership.com.