7 qualities of an interim leader

Speed, agility and self-sufficiency are key in on-demand work economy

By Gail Lethbridge

Seasoned Pros Content Lab

Sometimes an organization faces an unanticipated change at the top. Someone dies, gets sick or decides to move on at short notice.

What do you do? Well, first thing, don’t panic because there is an army of interim leaders waiting in the wings.

What are interim leaders?

They are the temporary leaders who come into an organization at short notice to manage it through a crisis and bridge it through a leadership transition. They are often senior leaders who have left permanent roles in the c-suite in exchange for project-based work in the on-demand workplace economy.

What are the qualities of a good interim leader?

Unsurprisingly, the qualities of a good interim leader are not that different from the qualities of a permanent leader, but an interim leader has a few extras, namely they are nimble, fast and self-sufficient.

  1. Leadership – a good interim leader understands the goals of the organization and can quickly see the pathways to achieve them. They show qualities of integrity, honesty and confidence. They also understand how to delegate tasks to the right people.
  2. Agent of change  – they are comfortable in dynamic work environments and business contexts and understand how to manage change and disruption. They do not regard change as a problem. It is a challenge that is part of the job.
  3. Effective communicators – they possess exceptional presentation skills and are able to translate their vision to team members, clients and stakeholders. They motivate people and are open to questions and discussions as they steer the company in a unified direction.
  4. Ability to hit the ground running – interim leaders learn the business context quickly and require little onboarding and introductions to the business culture and sector. They are self-sufficient and they know how to bring themselves up to speed quickly.
  5. Adaptable and agile – they are able to adapt to a new business environment and see its needs quickly, and then apply their vision and skills to lead it through a crisis.
  6. Motivation and resilience – they arrive as outsiders who do not have friends and allies. Without the burden of office politics, they are able to make changes that others are unable to do.
  7. Team building and delegation – they know how to build and interact with teams. They understand how to leverage the strengths of team members and assign tasks accordingly.

SeasonedPros.ca is an on-demand business talent source. Clients with an immediate need for experienced talent trust us to source professionals for project, interim and part-time roles. Each professional in our national database has more than 20 years of business experience. We provide our clients two-four vetted professionals in 10 business days or less. 

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