Interim Executives Bring Gifts for the Board, Staff, and the Next Leader

Stephen Smith is a Certified Interim Executive and a member of the Armstrong McGuire Interim Management Network. Stephen is currently working as an interim executive with the Charlotte Bilingual Preschool in his hometown.

Receiving a gift is always exciting. It becomes even more beneficial when the gift is something you really need. Receipt of this perfect gift provides invaluable clarity and direction. In addition, it includes the exact tools you need to achieve the desired result.

Imagine being in a relationship where you receive gifts at the beginning and gifts when the relationship is ending. Continue to imagine that these bookend gifts are tailored specifically to your needs and will assist you with improving yourself in the most beneficial way. This is the type of relationship that most people would enthusiastically embrace.

Well, this is the type of relationship created when an interim executive is invited into an organization during a transition to a new CEO. An interim executive has a unique role when accepting the invaluable interim position. Although their role is temporary, they arrive with gifts in tow and upon exiting, they leave gifts. There are specific gifts just for the board, just for the organization, and just for the next CEO.

The most obvious initial gift for all is a qualified professional with a unique leadership skill set taking the helm of the organization, removing the burden of leadership from a Board or staff member. The interim leader keeps Board or staff members from wearing too many hats or hats that may compromise their regularly assigned roles. The assignment of an interim executive automatically provides the gift of creating an atmosphere of freedom for these stakeholders to keep their focus on properly executing the expectations of their specific roles. This gift also promotes confidence among the community and the clients served that the mission of the organization will continue its focus with minimal interruptions. Maintaining a positive organizational reputation is an indirect gift that is difficult to regain, especially if compromised during any leadership transition.

The gifts that the interim executive arrives with include assessing all aspects of the organization from the Board to the clients served. This includes evaluating organizational operations and functions. This fresh insight brings a new, unbiased perspective to the organization.

Ever open a large gift box to find smaller gift boxes inside? The boxes inside the initial assessment include active listening without judgment, absorbing and analyzing the information quickly, calming emotions, promoting a culture of openness and transparency, and communicating appreciation to key stakeholders whose work has been extremely beneficial.

Specifically chosen gifts are so effective because they narrow in on a targeted need. For an interim executive, these gifts are strategically assigned to the three key areas: the Board, the organization, and the new CEO.

Gifts specific to the Board include strategic problem-solving, laser focus on key priorities, action-oriented responses and board development insights and tools.

Gifts specific to the organization include promoting and modeling effective people skills, building or rebuilding morale, promoting a culture of accountability, and staff development insights and tools.

Gifts specific to the incoming CEO include fostering empathy and respect for the responsibilities of the CEO, providing insight on areas that need attention with recommendations on addressing them and lastly, encouraging clarity of CEO deliverables from the Board.

Upon exiting, the gifts left behind are found in a final Assessment Report. In this report, there are general and specific gifts. The assessment outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, generally and specifically. It outlines the existing culture of the organization and provides recommendations for improvement. It often encourages the need to embrace unity toward the organization’s mission statement. Lastly, in examining the overall culture, recommendations are made for the type of leadership most needed.

When an organization considers all the gifts that an interim executive brings and leaves, it is no wonder that, although organizational change is rarely easy, with the right perspective, an interim executive can be the perfect gift for your organization.

Check out a case study of a recent Armstrong McGuire interim management and Executive Transition Management engagement with the Carolina Raptor Center.

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