Guest Blog: Observations as an Interim Executive

In the second of our interim reflections guest blogs, we have Karen Moore looking back over her key learning and takeaways from her interim placement closing an organisation that had lost its funding.

 


 

In July 2018 I commenced my first Interim Executive Placement since setting up my own business as a Consultant and Executive Coach. My placement is with a charity who has sadly lost their Government funding and the Board have made the decision to close the organisation. My role as an Interim Executive is to lead that closure.

 

I have many observations and learning from my first Interim role and one of those is that Interim placements can be extremely varied. This one is a closure; my next could be a rescue / crisis or a more straightforward hand holding situation – basically you must be prepared for any situation and have the flexibility and versatility in your leadership style to be able to cope with whatever is thrown at you.

 

Another observation of myself is that my lifelong foe of ‘Impostor Syndrome’ absolutely reared its head when I took on my first role. Who am I to think I can walk into a new organisation and sort out its problems? The good thing about Interim Executive work is that you have to learn to swim very fast – I did learn to swim and have thrived under my first Interim role. Some skills I think you need are to be:

 

  • Very organised and good at time management
  • Quick at identifying key tasks and issues
  • Good analytical skills especially for finance, governance and HR
  • Good at communicating at all levels and very regularly
  • A diplomat
  • Exceedingly good at relationship building
  • Asking the right questions and not being afraid to ask difficult ones

 

So why would an organisation want an Interim Executive – well there are many reasons but some of the most common are:

 

The departure of their current CEO, Director or Chief Officer – this could be for reasons of retirement; due to them changing career and moving on; or if they have been removed from post by the Board. In this situation the Board may decide to put in place an Interim Executive [IE] as a stop gap to give them time to think of their options or for the IE to conduct an organisational review.

 

  • Maternity leave or sickness – the Board may decide to cover this absence period with an IE.
  • Transition management – the Board may wish to appoint an IE to conduct a review of the finances, governance or the full organisation before it decides on which direction to take the organisation in.
  • Strategy review – the Board may wish to complete an external strategic review of the organisation before appointing a new CEO or to work alongside an existing CEO -they may wish for a different skill set and experience to advise on their new strategic direction.
  • Turnaround – an IE may be appointed by a Board if an organisation is in crisis and it needs the skills of a change management CEO who can look at turning the organisation around.

 

A further observation is that the key difference between being a Consultant and being an Interim Executive is that you are far more ‘Hands On’. Just like consultancy you have a set period with the organisation and you will have to move on and find your next role.

 

For more information about the Interim Executive Service, please see here, or contact programme coordinator, Phili Wetton on 0131 510 8940 or phili.wetton@acosvo.org.uk