Virtually overnight the landscape of the global workforce has changed and likely for the foreseeable future. While this means different things for each organization, we can all agree that the COVID-19 recovery timeline is front-of-mind for all leaders. Every organization will have to plan for their workforce post-COVID-19, but the organization dealing with the untimely departure of a C-suite executive has a much heavier lift. With thoughtful consideration for the current and desired future state of the organization, however, the board of directors has a unique opportunity to redirect and ensure mission sustainability. Interim executive leadership is a valuable resource that gives an organization time to reflect on the past, correct structural inefficiencies and prepare for the visionary work of a long-term leader.
As your organization looks ahead to a potentially uncertain future, hiring for executive leadership vacancies will become top priority as the board of directors works toward solidifying a “new normal.” This is a key decision point for the board. It is also the perfect time to use interim leadership to become laser focused on operations and the fiscal health of the organization as the long-term executive leadership needs will likely evolve through the crisis and beyond.
Effective interim leadership can also aide in the success of a future permanent executive search. The best interim leaders are experts in finance, operations, human resources, technology and change management. They also have a singular goal: to fix whatever is broken. This is the kind of leader that will prepare an organization for the success of a long-term incumbent.
When selecting an interim leader, a board of directors must think a bit differently than when making a long-term hire. It is important to take advantage of the consultative nature of the relationship and lean heavily on the expertise of your interim leader. Always remember: You are the expert on your mission and this executive is the expert at organizational transition and recovery, use them. There are numerous benefits of interim. We have identified some of the most significant below to serve as a guide as you navigate your immediate decisions around executive talent.
A time of crisis and uncertainty is not a license for inaction. However, it is prudent to explore all available solutions and decide what is best for the future of your organization’s mission. While uncertainty does not excuse inaction, but it might not be the time for permanent and long reaching decisions either. Whether managing your organization through a crisis, addressing leadership needs after an untimely departure or making the decision to refresh leadership in light of changing business needs, an interim leader may be the answer. Even if you cannot see through the challenges to the future, you still have a responsibility to make plans for what you can see today.
Myra T. Briggs
Impact Search Advisors
Myra serves as the Managing Director for Impact Search Advisors by Nonprofit HR. She brings over 18 years of experience in executive search recruitment to the firm. She has effectively managed high-volume recruitment needs through substantive communication, organization and attention to detail. She has expertise in directing the creation of marketing tools and steering the execution of recruitment marketing programs. See a letter to mission-driven organizations from Myra now.