Interim Leadership

In the ever-evolving landscape of today’s business world, adaptability and resilience are key. When organizations face transitions, such as sudden leadership vacancies or major restructuring, interim leadership can be a crucial bridge to success.

In this article, we will explore what an interim role is, its benefits, and why having the right interim leader can make all the difference.


Interim Leader

Refers to a temporary leadership solution in an organization. It involves appointing an experienced and qualified leader to assume a top leadership position or role on a short-term basis (working full-time hours over a fixed period of time).

Interim leaders step in during times of crisis, change or when there is a leadership gap that needs to be filled swiftly and effectively.

The Role of an Interim Leader

An interim leader is not merely a placeholder temporary leader; they are a catalyst for positive change. They bring stability, expertise, and a fresh perspective to the organization. Here are some key roles an interim leader typically plays:

  1. Stabilizer: Interim leaders provide a sense of stability during turbulent times, reassuring employees and stakeholders. Their prior experience in similar situations allows them to have an immediate impact.

  2. Change Agent: They are often brought in to implement changes or turn around a struggling department or organization. Due in part to their lack of personal connection to the company and employees, they are able to drive forward the necessary change.

  3. Mentor: Interim leaders may mentor and guide internal team members, leaving a lasting impact on the organization.

  4. Startup: Join a founder or founders as an executive and provide the tactical execution to achieve goals faster without the compensation structure tied to a full-time executive.

The Benefits

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Rapid Deployment

When a leadership vacuum arises, time is of the essence. Interim leaders can be swiftly deployed, minimizing disruption and ensuring that the organization continues to function effectively. The hiring process typically is as quick as being interviewed on a Thursday and then hired and starting on Monday.

Specialized Expertise

Interim leaders are typically seasoned managers and professionals with a wealth of experience in their field. This specialized expertise can bring fresh ideas and solutions to the table. Providing a clear definition of the problem and desired outcome is key to getting the results you need out of interim executives.

Unbiased Perspective

Being outsiders to the operations of the organization, interim leaders can provide an objective, unbiased perspective. This can be invaluable when making tough decisions or implementing changes.


Hiring an interim leader for a specific project or time period can be more cost-effective than hiring a full-time executive, especially if the need to fill is temporary. An interim executive will not require the typical perks an employee would, including health insurance, bonuses, and any other benefits the company would typically provide.

Finding the Right Interim Leader

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The decision to hire an interim leader is usually a quick one with a major unplanned change such as termination, employee realignment, or restructuring of the business. In these situations, the selection of this leader is usually a very quick process. Keep the following in mind:

Experience and Alignment

Look for candidates with a proven track record in similar roles. Experience is a strong indicator of their ability to handle the challenges of an interim leadership position.

Verify they want to be an interim executive for reasons that will not leave you short. Ensure this is their career, not a way of filling a gap between roles.

Cultural Fit

Ensure that the interim leader aligns with the organization’s culture and values. This will help them integrate seamlessly with the existing executives and team. An executive with a history or working in start-ups would not be the ideal candidate for a mature company.

Communication Skills

Effective communication is essential for an interim leader to gain the trust and support of employees and stakeholders. Further to this, establish upfront their style of communication and how they will track their progress and keep the company updated of their progress.


Check references and seek feedback from interim executives at previous organizations where the interim leader has worked. This can provide insights into their performance and leadership style. When time is of the essence, relying on an executive search firm to vet the candidates would be the ideal solution.

The Future of Interim Leadership

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In an era of constant change, such interim executive leadership is likely to become more common. Organizations that embrace this approach can adapt more quickly to challenges and seize opportunities as they arise.

Interim leadership is not a stopgap measure; it’s a strategic choice that can propel organizations forward during times of transition. Interim leaders bring experience, expertise, and a fresh perspective to the table, making them invaluable assets.

Whether you’re using interim talent or facing a leadership vacancy or a major organizational change, consider the benefits of interim leadership and how it can be a catalyst for your organization’s success.

In summary, when it comes to interim leadership, remember that an interim leader is not just a temporary fix but a permanent leader, a dynamic force that can steer your organization toward its goals.