The concept of hiring an interim leader is increasingly relevant in today’s world, but many resourcing professionals and senior leaders still lag behind in their understanding of what an interim leader can offer.
Agility, transformation, and execution are three of the most used words in organizational development. These three words also define the sweet spot of interim leaders to accelerate organizational growth and lead change. An interim leader is a seasoned professional who has held executive level or head of function roles in several organizations. He or she has chosen to work as an interim leader because of an appetite to achieve quick results, deliver key projects, and make an impact in the evolution of organizations. He or she can do this better than most and has an impressive CV that demonstrates organizational savvy, a successful track-record, and gravitas.
The UK-based Interim Management Association defines an interim leader as:
• A top-level independent executive or project manager
• An expert in his or her field
• A high-level performer with a track-record of quantifiable achievement
• A possessor of drive and energy
• A perceptive individual capable of adapting to new environments and delivering results
• Available immediately
The focus on change management professionals to support organizational projects is perhaps more prevalent now than at any previous time. I would question the preference for professionals who know how to follow a change management methodology over an interim leader who can offer a rich and powerful contribution to achieve organizational breakthroughs. Organizations also benefit by supplementing their permanent leadership with interim leaders who bring objectivity, innovation, and a passion to achieve results without the overheads of politics and career ambition.
Why consider an interim leader as opposed to a traditional consulting firm? First let me say that both options offer many positive elements to support organizational growth. But while a consulting firm might have a wealth of highly intelligent consultants, well-oiled methodologies, and scale, an interim leader brings the benefits of experience, leadership, and tenacity to deliver. An interim leader often bears the scars of organizational realities, knows how to lead from within rather than influence from without, and has a breadth of skills in one person rather than spread across many. Engaging an interim leader who has delivered similar projects before (perhaps many times), ensures a fast start, familiarity with the issues, and an ability to adapt to culture and context better than any other professional.
Interim leaders are often tasked with leading change projects, sometimes leading teams, but rarely leading business as usual activities. An interim leader knows how to read organizations, people, and cultures because of their experience. He or she is often highly emotionally intelligent as well as being a subject-matter expert. Being able to impress executive teams, provide credible influence, and challenge the status quo – these are all ‘norms’ for an interim leader.
If this blog has sparked your curiosity about interim leaders and you would like to know more, please contact me using the contact form on the Focal Leadership website www.focalleadership.com