How To Be An Effective Interim Executive

happy business executive smiling with employees in background

happy business executive smiling with employees in backgroundJim RudmanBy Jim Rudman, CEO, Ashton Tweed

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Climbing the ladder to an executive position is challenging enough, but entering a company as an interim executive poses different challenges. There are certain skills required to be an effective interim executive and to handle companies in transition or turmoil. If you are considering an interim position, use the following skills as a guide for your interim leadership.


  • Ask the right questions
    Before entering the organization, you want to know of all the existing issues. Therefore you will need to ask the right kind of questions. Typically, you cannot get all of the information you need from just one person because their knowledge might be limited by personal bias or interpretation of the company. In order to avoid these limitations and be properly prepared, you should speak directly to all members of the management team so as to see the company from all angles.


  • Be Flexible
    Interim leaders need to expect the unexpected and adapt to unforeseen changes. Interim projects all have a certain level of uncertainty and are often of an ambiguous nature. Due to these circumstances, interim executives should be flexible and able to read situations with a critical eye. Understandably, this sort of discomfort keeps you on your toes.


  • Focus on the outcome
    Ultimately, as an interim executive your goal is to set up a stable environment for the company. Set a list of goals you expect to achieve by the end of your stay, and check back on them consistently in order to stay on track. The current distractions of the business should not prevent an interim manager from focusing on the final outcome.


  • Continuous progress
    Interim executives must be ambitious about making change and progress in the short period they are employed. They should question all ingrained behaviors and systems that might be holding the company back or causing problems. On this note, they must be able to do this in a helpful and non-critical way. Continuous improvement can only be successful if the leader knows how to influence people and motivate positive changes.


  • Effective Communication Skills
    As with any leadership role, clear communication is key. This skill is even more vital for interim leaders because they need to interact with all departments and managers and challenge their existing systems. In addition, interim executives must acclimate to the organization quickly and become one with the workforce in order to effectively communicate and lead. In other words, they need to gain the trust and confidence of the existing employees.


  • Strategic thinking
    Strategic thinking is important for all executives, but due to the unstable circumstances of interim roles, the need to strategize is intensified. They not only need to possess the ability to apply strategies to various business settings, but they also need to be able to execute these strategies swiftly and effectively.


Whether you are an interim executive paving the way for a future leader or are hoping to transition into the permanent role yourself, it is important to stay present. Be the best executive that you can be because, even if your role is temporary, you are the current executive leader.

Looking for interim talent with life sciences experience? Click here to contact Ashton Tweed today.

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