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Flex Leadership: The Tool You Didn’t Know You Need

January 17, 2020   By Jim Cuene

At Fahren, we work with great senior leaders who have communicated clear, compelling visions for their organizations. They want  their organizations to be – need them to be – more agile, more responsive or customer centric. But, they also need their existing organizations to make a leap, to transform quickly.  Leaders that are trying to move faster should look to “Flex” leaders from outside the organization to help drive.

External Leaders Can Be Catalysts

When organizations make a conscious decision to change and declare their intent to work differently, they are making it clear to the internal teams that a lot will be changing: Processes, outputs, schedules, patterns and deliverables. But, they are also indicating that the culture will need to change, too: Behaviors, expectations, styles, incentives and norms. All that takes time that a lot of organizations don’t have. Interim  leaders with executional knowledge can  teach the new skills and model the the needed behaviors, acting as a catalyst, an accelerator of change.

Interim Leaders Can Get You Through the Hardest Part

The hardest part of change is just getting it going. When your organization is trying to move forward on a lot of fronts an external, interim leader can help strike the critical leadership balance: Teaching the concepts, guiding the execution and coaching the behaviors. In the early phases of working differently, having an experienced leader on the ground can lead to the quick wins that build team confidence and momentum.

Interim Leaders Can Buy You Time to Make Hard Leadership Decisions

One of our consultants has played an interim Director of Marketing role for close to a year at a fast-growing, regional industry leader. A new CEO took over for the founders and knew the organization needed a lot of work to make marketing a growth driver. They knew they needed to hire a CMO eventually, but there were other critical organizational projects that took precedence. They made a strategic choice to use the interim Director role to give them space and time to fully understand how to elevate the role to a CMO job. With an interim leader guiding the team,  the executive team could focus on other critical drivers of growth while aligning on the job responsibilities and doing a careful search for the CMO.

As you’re looking to drive growth in 2020, you can’t control time and you can’t control staff turnover, but you can control how you make choices about leadership transition. Increasingly, we’re seeing businesses leverage interim roles to jump-start change, build skills faster, and conversely, give themselves time to slow down to make better staffing choices.

Co-Founder and CEO

Jim has over 20 years of digital brand building experience. From running a start up digital agency to leading digital strategies for global brands at Ameriprise and General Mills, he’s been at the front of digital marketing his whole career. He loves the web and the opportunities it is creating for people and businesses to actually make the world better. Jim has an entrepreneurial mindset, the ability to see how the dots will connect in the future, and the knowledge & experience to put plans and teams in place to get results now.

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