Why Hire an Interim Leader? 

Choosing an Interim Executive Director (ED) to fill an open leadership position in your non-profit organization comes with several distinct benefits. While this person may only be with your organization for 3 to 6 months, an effective Interim ED offers the ability to implement influential changes, bring innovative solutions to old problems, and contribute many positive and fresh ideas.

Some benefits of hiring Interim EDs include: 

Fresh Perspectives  

Interim EDs can offer a fresh perspective on your organization’s strengths and challenges. An Interim ED often assists an organization to develop new directions that enable it to move out of a pattern of decisionmaking that underlies challenges. They also help your organization examine what is really going on through a fresh set of eyes. This can result in new solutions to old problems.  

Change Agents

Experienced Interim EDs can encourage necessary change in your organization. An Interim ED often brings about necessary change prior to the recruitment of the permanent ED. This allows the permanent ED to quickly move forward with a renewed organization, without having to own the change process and the potential unrest that comes with it 

Strategic Thinking

An Interim ED will be able to assist you in completing a quick review of your Strategic Plan to ensure that it is current. If needed, the Interim ED can support an organization in updating its Strategic Plan.    

Better Inform the Recruitment of the Permanent ED

An Interim ED will be able to assist the organization in recruiting the best suited permanent ED by identifying the skill set and experience required to move the organization forward. Coming into an organization that is in a “crisis” mode due to the unexpected departure of its ED provides the Interim ED with an opportunity to assess the strengths, challenges and needs of the organization. At the same time, the Interim ED will be able to objectively identify the skills and experience that are best suited for the organization. 

Managing Change

The Interim ED role is a critical one. She/he/they will have to work closely with staff, who may be upset with the sudden departure of their ED, or who may be pleased with the sudden departure of a challenging ED. Whichever scenario, staff will probably be responding with an uneasiness about the sudden change they have been thrust into, accompanied by an increased level of uncertainty about what the future may hold. The Interim ED will have to be skilled in managing this challenging organizational change process. 

To hire an external Interim ED or not?

Though there are many advantages to hiring an Interim ED, it’s not a flawless solution. The one disadvantage that often holds an organization back is the costIt will seem expensive in the short term, but it can be weighed against the long-term cost of missing out on the value they can provide. Stability, change management, and input into the recruitment of your future permanent ED provide great benefits that will outweigh the up-front cost over time. Lastly, your Interim ED will save you time and money by helping to manage the permanent ED recruitment process, so you can be sure that the replacement person aligns well with the mission and vision of your organization. 

If you are considering hiring an Interim ED and would like to discuss your options, you can reach me at [email protected]