Reinventing Interim Leadership - it's all about getting things done

Dorothy Mead

If you were asked to associate a hue with consultants, for many the answer would be grey. And if you then asked the follow-up as to what shade you think of when you think of interims, it would probably generate a ‘grey, but greyer’ response.

One of the themes underpinning Talmix is recognising that consultants, and in particular those who have gone independent, aren’t a dull grey mass, but a vital force for companies needing to get important things done. Expertise and experience become very flamboyant characteristics when they lead to successful outcomes.

And now that makeover is becoming part of the interim world. Interim leadership was often perceived as a pre-retirement holding pen for execs, who were paid to keep the ‘seat warm’ for a quarter or so, while the search for the real role holder was in play. Not a great look for either party.

As a result, companies’ perceptions became increasingly negative and interims were seen as an overhead for org chart optics, rather than an agent for delivery.

Like so much else in the workplace, that is now changing: the interim without purpose is going the way of the dinosaurs.

Talmix platform data shows that interim assignments typically last for 4 -9 months. The typical interim has 10 years experience and is making interim leadership part of a conscious career pathway. They are brought on to execute on the toughest decisions, as turnaround leaders, and transformation agents.

Talmix has connected clients to interims across different use cases – recent examples include procurement leadership for a medical device manufacturer; FP&A interim to deliver on value creation and growth metrics; interim transformation VPs to drive integrations across businesses and functions.

The change in the use of interim talent aligns with the move towards skills-based organisations: it’s no longer about looking at a role and plugging the empty space in the org chart. It is about looking at the outcomes needed, and the skills required to deliver those outcomes. This is the new interim and it’s changing how businesses operate.

If you’re wondering how to fill a leadership position – take a step back and ask what you’re expecting from that role, and whether an interim could deliver on the critical outcomes instead of, or ahead of, the position being permanently filled. You don’t need seat warmers, but if in that decision-making period you’re getting results like 15% increase in profitability we saw with a recent interim leader on our network.

Interims also can help with the onboarding of permanent talent – continuing to drive momentum while new team members assimilate into the organisation – and avoiding the non-productive settling in period.

The outcomes-based interim is going to be a key player in your extended workforce planning. Lose the grey-tinted vision, and embrace the brightness that this new talent can bring to your business.

Dorothy Mead

Dorothy is VP Marketing & Brand at Talmix. Passionate about the changing workforce and the future of work, she is driving market share for Talmix globally.