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.